The Hall of Fame Baylor grad who shaped five decades of Houston sports coverage
If you’ve been a Houston sports fan at any point in the last 50 years, you’re likely familiar with John McClain (BA ’75). The hall of fame sportswriter (and Baylor grad) earned the nickname “The General” while working for the Houston Chronicle for 47 years, until his retirement earlier this spring.
A Waco native, McClain’s sportswriting career began while he was a student at McLennan Community College, when he took a job covering local high school football games for the Waco Tribune-Herald. He was soon hooked. McClain transferred to Baylor to pursue a journalism degree, going to classes by day and writing for the Trib full-time at night. His early influences included three Baylor Bears: journalism professor David McHam, Dave Campbell (BA ’50), and fellow Baylor alum Tony Pederson (BA ’73), who went on to serve as managing editor at the Chronicle.
Pederson brought McClain to Houston in 1976, where his career thrived. He began by covering hockey and the old Houston Aeros, but soon moved to football, which would become his calling card. For many years, McClain was the Chronicle‘s beat writer for the Houston Oilers; after they moved to Tennessee, he continued using his connections as the paper’s lead NFL writer. A fixture on radio and social media (with almost 150,000 followers on Twitter), McClain built a national reputation for his football insights.
In 2006, McClain was recognized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame with the Dick McCann Memorial Award for distinction in covering the NFL. In April, the Houston Texans honored him by unveiling the John McClain Media Wall of Fame in NRG Stadium’s press box. And in May, he was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame as a part of the shrine’s 2022 class of media members, bringing his career full-circle with an honor housed in his hometown, right across the street from his alma mater.
Sic ’em, John McClain!