We are re-running this feature on Scotty McCreery, who Wednesday night was crowned the new American Idol. This story originally ran on March 14. Scotty McCreery
used to be known as a promising pitcher for the Garner Magnet (N.C.)
Today he is much better known as one of the 12 finalists on the current Fox television hit show American Idol, and he conceivably might never pitch a regular-season game for the Garner varsity.
The 5-foot-10, 165-pound junior right-hander compiled a 6-1 record with a superb 1.07 earned run average as a sophomore for the Garner JV team. As a freshman he had a 4-0 record with a 3.20 ERA. He spun a shutout during his final start for the varsity in the summer league prior to his junior year.
He's on the MaxPreps varsity roster and if he ever makes it back to the team, he's No. 19.
"He doesn't throw terribly hard," coach Derik Goffena told MaxPreps. "His best pitch is a curveball as far as getting people out. If he had to start he probably wouldn't walk more than one or two in a game.
"We have a couple of returning seniors. To start the season, my guess is that he would have been a reliever (with a chance to start later). He definitely figured in our plans one way or the other. We lost our top four pitchers last year. Obviously, having Scotty gone deals us a blow, to lose our top JV pitcher."
Baseball's loss, however, has been music's gain.
Garner choral director Meredith Clayton has been working with McCreery since he was a freshman. He belongs to her advanced vocal ensemble, Die Meistersingers, who perform throughout the United States.
"He has a very rich, mature voice for his age," Clayton said. "It has a unique quality. He definitely has that country sound. He can go very low for a 17-year-old boy. He was not scared to sing out (when he was named Rookie of the Year as a freshman). He sang tenor. His voice started getting deeper and he switched to bass as a sophomore."
McCreery started doing solo performances as a sophomore, competing in the Garner Idol competition and singing at his church.
Clayton said she had no idea that he was so talented in country singing until his mother brought her a YouTube video he had made.
"I was blown away," she said. "It wasn't the side of him that I had heard."
The entire Raleigh, N.C., metropolitan population is excited about McCreery's success on Idol, according to Tim Stevens, veteran sports writer for the Raleigh News & Observer.
"It's huge," Stevens said. "There are 30 million voters. I don't know how many he got, but he's a wholesome, neat guy. Representing your community is really cool. I think Scotty is going to make a million dollars. Every year they do a national tour with their top finishers. I think he's going to cut a record right now."
Stevens pointed out that the show is surrounded by secrecy and not only McCreery, but also all of his family members are not allowed to be interviewed while in the competition.
A recent issue of TV Guide Magazine called him "the kid with the shockingly deep voice who sounds old-school Nashville, but wants nothing to do with a cowboy hat."
Goffena concedes that even if McCreery returns to the team this spring, he will need two to four weeks to get in shape and the season could be over by then.
"We're at the point now where we definitely hope he doesn't come back, because that would mean he's doing well," Goffena said.
Looking at McCreery's senior year, Goffena said, "If he's back, he definitely would help us. A lot depends on how far this takes him. I'm sure he'll have a lot of obligations. I'd love to have him back, but certainly understand his situation."
Last spring Goffena was not quite as understanding, because McCreery missed a week of practice to sing in a school play.
"I gave him more grief than I probably should have," he confessed. "I said, 'I hope it was worth it.' It turned out it was. We knew he was a good singer, but could never have predicted this."
McCreery's success has not been a surprise to Clayton.
"He's got a great voice and God-given talent," she said. "He's a Christian, an athlete, gets good grades and is really well-rounded. He's the typical All-American boy. He's really confident and humble. I think people can relate to that. People are drawn to him.
"My students follow everything online. They tell me Scotty has one of the largest group of fans. He's got a good following and a chance to go far. Even if he doesn't win, I think he's going to get a good career out of this."