Michael McKenry is next up in our MLB Player Chat series! Michael was drafted by the Rockies as a catcher in the seventh round back in 2006 out of Middle Tennessee State University, after starring at Farragut High School in Knoxville.
Four years later, McKenry made his MLB debut with the Rockies. Not long after, the Rockies traded him to the Red Sox for Daniel Turpen. The Red Sox flipped McKenry to the Pirates a few months later.
As a rookie in 2011, McKenry led the Pirates in innings caught, pairing with Ryan Doumit. He split duties the following year with Rod Barajas, and then worked behind Russell Martin on the 2013 Pirates.
McKenry had a two-home run game in 2013, victimizing the Reds’ Mat Latos and Jonathan Broxton in an April win at PNC Park. A few months later McKenry had a four-hit game at Marlins Park. That Bucs team won 94 games, ended the franchise’s 20-year losing streak, and emerged victorious in the Wild Card game against Johnny Cueto and the Reds.
The 2013 season was cut short for McKenry by a knee injury, and the Pirates non-tendered him in December. He inked a minor league deal to return to the Rockies and serve as Wilin Rosario’s backup in 2014. In 192 plate appearances that year, McKenry batted a robust .315/.398/.512 – one of the finest batting lines featured by a catcher.
McKenry finished his MLB career with the Cardinals, snagging a couple last MLB plate appearances in 2016. He also spent time in the Red Sox, Braves, Rangers, Brewers, and Rays organizations. McKenry’s MLB career wrapped up with more than 2,000 innings behind the dish. He paired up with Pirates standout pitchers such as Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano, Charlie Morton, and A.J. Burnett.
McKenry hit 29 home runs in his 953 career plate appearances, including shots off Johan Santana and Jonathan Papelbon. He also had the pleasure of hitting a walkoff home run in the bottom of the 11th off the Mariners’ Mayckol Guaipe for the Rockies in 2015. That same year, McKenry nabbed his lone career stolen base off Derek Norris. The man nicknamed “The Fort” managed a fine wRC+ of 109 at the plate back in 2012, plus an excellent 140 mark in 2014.
Today at age 37, Michael serves as a pregame, postgame, and color analyst for the Pirates, as well as a speaker, mentor, and consultant. You can follow him on Twitter @theFortMcKenry.
Michael was kind enough to volunteer some time to take questions about his career, the Pirates’ future, his work in the broadcast booth and quite a bit more in a chat with MLBTR readers today. You can read the transcript of his chat here.
If you’re a current or former MLB player, we’d love to have you for a chat with our readers! It’s a great way to interact with fans for an hour (or longer, as Michael did today!), and you get to choose which questions you publish. Click here to contact us.
So far it’s been three players I’ve never heard of lol
When you’re stuck with your head in the sand, it’s not unusual to have never heard of certain players
Whereas TheMan, on the other hand, has heard of every player to play the game…
Take off your bitter beret’ and enjoy insight from guys who never made it big, but stayed as long as they could….pretty much what 90% of posters would have loved to have done.
Adjust the tinfoil hat and please please don’t come back….
It’s called Google. If I don’t recognize a name I research the individual which provides me some knowledge
…and more often than not some respect as well….
Then that’s a crime…
Well, there’s some good news for you, Jon! You have some options:
A. You can read up on the player himself and see if anything about him piques your interest. Perhaps his hometown, or a teams that he played for. He’s a catcher, which maybe you’d like to learn more about. Maybe he’ll even answer your question!
B. You can focus on learning about the struggles of being a fringe Major Leaguer. Somebody like McKenry can share insights on what it’s like to make the bigs, just to get injured and have to work his way back again, just to not quite make it again. Guys like Judge or Machado or Harper cannot.
C. You can read the headline and think “Hmm… Michael McKenry. Never heard of the guy, so I am not very interested in this chat” and click on one of the many articles about trade rumors around the league instead. Given that you’ve taken the time to create an account on here, you probably have some wisdom and opinions to share that will be valuable contributions to the articles.
or D. You can get creative and form your own path. But you’re on a forum with guys that specialize in baseball knowledge. It’s not that every person knows every player, but for every one guy that hasn’t heard of him, ten can probably recite his bio without even looking. So no matter what you pick, sharing your that you don’t know certain player will just make you ignorant, and is probably best kept to yourself.
I hope you really don’t expect people to read excessive posts.
@arnold – It was directed at Jon, and not you, so I am not sure why feel the need to respond. But since you’re interested, if people are a little intimidated by lots of words written at, what, a 5th-grade reading level (so no big scary words!), then they can move right along ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
Boy, people are so touchy for no reason. All I said was I didn’t know the players.
Are you illiterate? You are making zero since with these replies.
Wow Jon, demand your money back!
I will do just that, jorge! 🙂
Why was my comment deleted?
Probably for a good reason.
You know why.
Because you insulted the chat host.
Because you were being stupid.
You didn’t even see it……
And I’m the stupid one?
I see they’ve got the cream of the crop for these interviews
I think interviews with the players on the margins are way more interesting.
Great concept here with the chats, and love some of the insights from players that were on the fringes as much or more as if they had been stars. Good stuff all around.
It was also nice to see Fort McHenry confirm the well-known fact that catchers / former catchers are always the smartest and best-looking players on (and off) the field.
Guys who continue to play even if they were backups I give a lot of credit to for their perseverance because they love the game, not necessarily the money. Also, cat hers who spend time on the bench are good observers and make very good managers.
Wholeheartedly agree! Though it was cool to chat with chipper last year, seeing the plights of the working class baseball player is fascinating
H E Pennypacker
Man, this site is really going downhill. Who are these guys?
I for one enjoy them. Do you think they should be out there getting Willie Mays and Keith Hernandez or something?
Seriously, why would I want to see an interview with someone who has been interviewed thousands of times before?
H E Pennypacker
Who said I wanted to “interview someone who has been interviewed thousands of times” before ?
There are plenty of players to interview that are far more relevant, interesting, and experienced (as opposed to this bit playing, bench warming scrub).
Name another site that does chats like this with former players, Pennypacker.
I’m gonna leave this up so I can respond to it.
Since you’ve taken at least a few minutes here to insult the chat host for no apparent reason, perhaps you can take 15 more and read the entire transcript of the 90 minutes he spent chatting with MLBTR readers.
Then come back, and tell me honestly whether you found it boring, interesting, or somewhere in-between.
I’ve facilitated a bunch of these, and I found Mike’s chat highly entertaining and worthwhile. That’s what I’m going for here and this chat succeeded. I laughed, learned stuff, thought it was great.
If you read the entire transcript, and found it a waste of time because he’s not Aaron Judge, then you’re right – this is not for you. I’d prefer you not comment on the chat posts at all, then, because insults are against our commenting policy, and these guys are doing me a favor.
Mike received tons of questions, had a lot of interest from MLBTR readers, and loved participating. We’re going to do a bunch more of these and plenty of them are with guys who had a cup of coffee, two plate appearances in the Majors. I’m all for those. Those who aren’t interested – no problem, just scroll on by. It doesn’t cost you anything and we’re not subtracting other content to make room for these.
What you just said. Many of us like to hear what former players have to say, whether it is some one like you said that had a cup of coffee and a couple AB but has tons of minors experience, guys who are name players, or guys like Mike today who are in the middle somewhere. Mike is very knowledgeable about the game. I happen to live in the Pittsburgh area and he is back on local cable pre and post game shows. Gives great insight into different things that happened in the game just played because he knows what he is talking about. Keep up the series!
H E Pennypacker
Don’t get in your feels, Tim. We all have room to improve, and not a single “insult” of the chat host was made. But carry on and don’t improve. Thanks.
These players might not be hof’ers, but they didn’t’t get a lot of media attention during their playing time. How many of us would have given anything just to put on a major league team? Respect to these former players, please.
I meant major league uniforms.
Pennypacker said: (as opposed to this bit playing, bench warming scrub)
That’s not an insult???
Name another site that does chats like this with former players.
“bit playing, bench warming scrub” – clearly an insult. Basically indisputable
Saying he’s not “relevant, interesting, and experienced” – while still to this point providing no evidence you read his chat, is also insulting
“Improve” nonsense is just a straw man. MLBTR has plenty of room for improvement and we add new things every year; never suggested otherwise.
Lol Pennypecker is one of these losers who likes to think he’s hurting feelings. God that’s hilarious.
H E Pennypacker
I see you’re worked up. But thank you for wasting your time.
“But thank you for wasting your time.”
– Hey, at least you realize you’re a waste of time! It’s so weak how people like you make low-IQ comments, then follow up with “don’t get in your feels” and “I see you’re worked up”, as if it’s some sort of gotcha.
Anyway, how did you encourage Tim to improve? Just saying you dislike something is a singular opinion – and not a very popular one at that, it seems. He invited you to read through the transcript and provide with examples on how he can continue to improve this series, which is as good a call to action to improve as any. But instead of taking the opportunity to help Tim and provide thoughtful criticism, you ignore his request completely and make it about his feelings.
Which is sort of ironic you make it about other people’s feelings when you’re the one on here coming off as a petulant child.
I took up your request to read the entire transcript, and wanted to let you know that, I found McKenry’s enthusiasm and willingness to give straightforward answers thoroughly enjoyable. I was really looking forward to hearing his feelings on the bonkers Lugo tag and left satisfied with his response. I found it especially interesting to hear about what it was like to struggle to fight injuries just to make it back to a Major League (details these so-called “scrubs” can share that star players know nothing about).
I find that the player chats are a great value-add to this site and really enjoy reading them (as it seems like so many others, it seems). And as a paying subscriber, I will gladly re-up my subscription to support this site as long as content like this keeps coming (on top of your already excellent trade rumor coverage).
I loved it. Very thought provoking. I’d rather hear from the fringe or average players over the stars any day. Just fantastic stuff. Thanks for arranging.
Tim…..don’t allow the voice of a few to influence any future chats. Most of us got something from it, let the keyboard warriors show others who they are. No need to insult someone who accomplished far for than them.
Wish I could give a thumbs up for this comment. Thanks for all you (and your guest hosts) do.
More than happy to stick up for people I like, and I’m glad to see others trashing you as well.
Not the site. Great as always. The comment section has taken a hit.
I would say that it is utterly mystifying that a baseball fan could come on here and complain, for heaven’s sake, about these chats or about the site itself adding more content and detailed articles.
Then I realize that I have read the comments section for over a month now and that would be silly. I would love to think that this site would be immune from some of the grosser stupidities of social media…alas, it is not. Some really solid regular posters here for sure and I am thankful for that, but a pretty large group of self-absorbed chuckleheads and trolls as well.
You should ask for a refund.
Why do they make them take these hostage pictures? Lol.
“Confirmation from JSOC, sir… that is a copy of today’s New York Times.”
Going for the Reddit AMA idea with that. I get the hostage joke but I think it’s fun, and plus it verifies the identity of guys who reached out to me via email.
I meant it in good fun. I think it’s great.
I love him/
Man people have some ridiculous expectations for a free site. I’m sure they’d love to get interviews with more household names but a player with nearly 1,000 at bats is still someone who likely has some good stories to tell. I’m a bit biased since I obviously know who Fort McKenry is though.
Some of you guys need to expand your baseball horizons a little. ‘The Fort” has always been both entertaining and very knowledgeable about the game. I’m really liking the expanded player interview series BECAUSE many of them have been with guys who weren’t stars, guys we might not normally hear from.
I agree with this. I’m sure there are interesting star players, and it’d be fun to have them, but I also know there are stars who offer extremely boring and cliche answers to questions, or just wouldn’t sit for 90 minutes and take questions from fans in general.
Yes. Keep these coming, especially during the slow months, if there is such a thing in MLB.
Think back to Crash Davis schooling Nuke Laloosh on how to deal with the media via pre-packaged cliches. The stars learn how to do this via greater exposure to media flashback in unguarded moments.
The role players are more likely to speak off the cuff.
Personally, I enjoy the insights these guys bring.
They struggled to get to a level most of us have only dreamed about. It didn’t come easy for them but they persevered. Kudos to these guys.
Loved him even as an Orioles fan. Always seems like an every day man that happened to play in the big leagues.
Great chat. Good to get some talkative ballplayers in the chat. Jacob Turner one got kind of boring with all his one word or short answers.
who? who’s on first?
That’s a nice fun interview to hear. It’s great to hear, and learn about players journey through MLB. Hearing about guys living through a dream that almost all of us have on this site have, but such a precious few ever have. Being a relatively anonymous MLB baseball player wouldn’t be a bad gig. I’d love to say I got a home run off of Johan Santana….Heck a single home run in an MLB game against anyone would be awesome to be able to talk about.
I think MLBTR should host commentor chats with Samuel leading off 🙂 I laughed so hard reading Tim’s response to why budselig6969’s comment was deleted: Because you insulted the chat host. I love MLBTR and think it to be sincere and great. I really should join.
Smart guy, knows the game, is still involved in the game and played the game at the highest level.
But, he’s not a big enough name for the star f*@#ers who need a more famous leg to hump.
Thank you Tim and Michael for giving us the opportunity to have this very cool feature. It was alot of fun.
I personally love hearing from anyone who made it to the pinnacle. Even if they don’t become a superstar they made it to the Show. I would love for this series to grab a pinnacle type that never had “the career”. Some like Philip Humber. Guy threw a perfect game but it was his defining moment. Just didn’t catch on for the whole superstar thing. I liked his pitching and that day was spectacular.
Thank you Tim and Michael. Informative chat. Enjoyed it, I only wish more had been discussed about coming up through the minors. Michael and guys like him make the game possible and truly interesting.
Tim please keep these going. 98% of us love it.
As a guy who was “retired” after college ball for talent reasons, love it.
How many of us would have given almost anything to have spent our 20’s on the periphery of MLB…
Trolls troll….and it’s known most of them do it for manic jealousy reasons….It just sucks we have to scroll by those reasons and when they aren’t replied to, the trolls troll even more looking for their justification in life….
H E Pennypacker
Michael McKenney rocks.
Best one yet
Ok, so geek in me is here…GenX. Loved the Phillies guys who came in and missed, Ramon Aviles, Luis Aguayo Len Matuszek Rick Schu…etc etc. Even more the Del Unser Jerry Martin types who got just a little bit farther….
Every team has dozens and dozens of these guys…and then dozens more…Many of which we all remember…. to wit I was a HUGE Jay Johnstone fan….
And where most of us would love to have been these guys….some $&# trolls may ruin it for these types going forward to put themselves out there for the Q&A just to get verbally abused in the comments……
The phrase “be better” is not an option, but Tim, I speak for over 90% of us….
“Please keep it up”….
H E Pennypacker
Well said, christopher
This guy isn’t a Cardinal. Sounds desperate for attention.
This guy isn’t a Cardinal. Sounds desperate for attention. Liberals don’t like me. Must mean I’m right. Yes that’s a pun, for my dense liberal friends.