Baseball keeps Christopher McCrary grounded.
In his role with the Commonwealth Attorney’s office in Elizabethtown, he prosecutes many difficult cases. But baseball offers a release from the stresses of judicial life.
Growing up in Fort Worth, Texas, the 39-year-old said his first aspiration in life was to be a garbage truck driver.
But as his parents answered some of his questions with “because,” they found he didn’t accept that answer and constantly asked why. McCrary said this happened so often his parents started saying, “You seem to be a lawyer.” In second grade, he decided he wanted to be an attorney.
At age 13, the family moved to Bowling Green and he graduated from Greenwood High School. He majored in psychology at Centre College and went to the University of Dayton for law school.
Early in his career, he didn’t think he’d be a prosecutor. He thought his desire to help people would take the form of creating wills or family law.
“In criminal law, I’m able to help the victims of crimes a lot more,” he said.
His biggest accomplishment, he said, isn’t about a high-profile case he’s won. Instead, he said it’s representing his clients and the commonwealth in an ethical manner and to do justice.
“In my line of work, that’s the most important thing, to get things right,” he said.
Commonwealth Attorney Shane Young called McCrary a “tremendous talent in the courtroom.”
“He is quick on his feet and has great presence in front of a jury,” Young said. “He also has the ability to make victims comfortable in the process which is essential in prosecution.”
In the high-profile cases, McCrary said the pressure is on.
An example is when he prosecuted Michael Hilton for murder in the death of Brianna Taylor, a recent high school graduate who died in a June 2014 car crash.
“For me, that was the toughest set of circumstances to deal with on a personal level,” he said. “It took a heavy emotional toll on this community.”
As in all cases, he said he wanted to get it right.
Because he deals with such serious circumstances in his work life, he looks for something else in the community for balance.
“As a prosecutor and in the criminal justice system, I’m around people who are having their worst day, probably one of the worst days of their lives,” he said.
He’s constantly around either a victim or someone who has committed a felony and sees some of the worst crime scenes.
Baseball offers him an outlet.
“At the ballpark, I’m around people who are usually having one of their best days,” he said. “It helps balance my life.”
Not many people play baseball as a job there, he said. You’re there to watch your kid, get away from work, eat some popcorn or play a game, he said.
He grew up playing sandlot baseball in his neighborhood.
“I want it to be a big part of my kids’ childhood because baseball teaches so many life lessons,” he said.
McCrary and his wife, Kasey, have three sons — Nolan, Ryne and Cole — all named for professional baseball players.
His dad told him when he was growing up to not force baseball on his future kids. McCrary called it one of the best pieces of advice his dad gave him. Without pushing, his boys have discovered their own love for the game.
He loves the opportunity to just play catch with his 9- and 6-year-old. Throwing a ball back and forth in the yard, you don’t have a care in the world, he said. It’s a good way to communicate with his kids and talk about school or anything else going on.
“When you’re throwing a baseball, it’s the best father-and-son conversation you can imagine,” he said.
He coaches his middle son’s team and serves on the Elizabethtown Area Baseball Commission.
Don Hill, commissioner of EABC, said McCrary always is willing to help.
“Chris has coached both the league teams and the All-Star teams and has done an exemplary job with both,” Hill said. “He has been a person I can call on to deal with any issues that may arise.”
He said he’s only heard positive comments about McCrary.
In college, McCrary had five goals regarding baseball. He wanted to visit every major league park and attend the baseball Hall of Fame, a World Series, spring training and an All-Star Game.
“I’ve been able to check off about three and a half of those,” he said.
The half is that he’s been to 20 of the 30 big-league parks.
Part of the joy is going with his sons. He has photos of their visits hanging all over his office.
He said he could sit and listen to people’s baseball stories all day.
In the community, McCrary also has been a leader with a local Boy Scouts group. Scouts, he said, helps children learn skills, to respect authority and how to be good leaders. His hope for his boys is for them to grow up to be positive role models and leaders.
“Ever since we moved to Elizabethtown, Chris has looked for opportunities to contribute and give back to our community,” Kasey said. “When he is not in the courtroom, working with kids and being outdoors is where he shines.”