Chargers sophomore McClure relying on genes to forge own legacy

Chargers sophomore McClure relying on genes to forge own legacy

CHAMPAIGN — Tyler McClure already can boast a solid high school athletic career.

The Centennial sophomore started for baseball coach Ryan Remole over last season's second half, hitting .380 and driving in 14 runs.

Tyler is back again in 2019, swatting .314 with a .400 on-base percentage and nine stolen bases prior to Saturday's doubleheader split for the 13-6 Chargers.

He's already a good ballplayer. Perhaps he can be a great one.

That would be par for the course in the McClure household.

"It just runs in our genes," Tyler said. "We love to compete, and we love to play the game."

Tyler's father, Brian, starred for the University of Illinois baseball team from 1993-96 and spent six years in the professional minor leagues.

It stretches beyond the diamond, too.

Tyler's mother, Kelly, shone with Illini volleyball at the same time as Brian donned the orange and blue.

And Tyler's younger sister, St. Thomas More freshman Anna, helped Sabers volleyball to third place at the 2018 Class 2A state tournament after being involved with an IESA eighth-grade state title at St. Matthew's.

"It's always good to see family members succeed in a sport you work hard at," Tyler said. "They do a good job of not pressuring me."

Brian said he and Kelly have encouraged their kids, including youngest Luke, to participate in whatever extracurriculars they'd like.

Of course, Brian can't help but feel an extra tinge of pride over Tyler choosing baseball. Brian was drafted out of Chatham Glenwood High School by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992 and was chosen again by the San Diego Padres in 1996 before playing pro ball through 2001.

"It was really cool (that Tyler took to baseball)," Brian said. "He really loves his teammates, and it's special to see him on the baseball field."

Brian feels there's really no comparison between prep-aged Brian and present-day Tyler.

The elder McClure estimates he stood about 5-foot-11 and weighed 150 pounds as a high school senior, whereas Tyler has sprouted to 6-2. Brian played shortstop, while Tyler's in the outfield. Brian batted left-handed, and Tyler swings from the right side of the dish.

"He looks the part much more than I did," Brian said. "I had to do a lot of things to get recognized. A lot of (Tyler's success is) the hard work he's put in — some of it's the God-given things he has."

Tyler admitted he hasn't seen film from Dad's baseball days, but heard "he was a pretty smooth player and had a good swing."

"He's never been hard on me," Tyler said. "A lot of it is just the mindset. It's just the little things he can teach me from his experience that have been really crucial and important."

Chargers coach Ryan Remole certainly appreciates that Tyler has Brian in the background to offer tips and pointers.

Simultaneously, Remole said he had an idea Tyler would be a strong ballplayer in his own right after seeing the youngster in a Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp Tyler's seventh-grade year.

The biggest reason, however, that Remole promoted Tyler to Centennial's varsity roster midway through last season was because Tyler simply wasn't striking out as often as those around him.

"I promised him he would get in, I would start him in Game 2 (on April 21, 2018, at Charleston) if he was willing to come," Remole said.

Tyler was itching for such an opportunity.

"I wanted to be mentally ready whenever I got that call-up," Tyler said. "Once I got there, got my first at-bat, I wasn't scared. ... I was confident I belonged up there."

The result?

"First pitch, I took a hack at it," Tyler said. "It was a base hit between second and first base."

"He scored a two-run single," Remole added. "He ended up being 3 for 5 on the day and had five RBI, and all he did was put the ball in play."

Tyler continues to do that in 2019, and the Chargers are winning this time around.

How quickly he came upon making an impact at Centennial may surprise some. Brian isn't in that camp.

"Since he was young, we have typically done athletic things, and I think that's probably led to some of the things you're seeing from him," Brian said. "Come over to our house on a summer night and you might see us on the backyard playing wiffle ball, and it gets pretty intense."

Tyler can thank Brian both for his baseball knowledge and providing him strong family ties to the sport Tyler loves.

Yet Tyler also wants to prove he has as much to offer on the diamond as his dad once did.

"I'm just trying to build my own legacy," Tyler said. "I know he was a good player, but I'm trying not to focus on what he accomplished. I want to get out there and be my own athlete."