October 4, 2023

How ‘Jon from Bridesburg’ has turned into the Captain of Philadelphia


Photo via 'The Philly Captain' via YouTube

If you’re a fan of baseball or Philadelphia sports, you may be familiar with a guy who chased Major League Baseball umpire Angel Hernandez, who was in his car, yelling at him, “Angel Hernandez, you stink, and I don’t like you!” Or, when the same guy heckled at Atlanta Braves’ catching coach Eddie Pérez that he is “his worst nightmare.” Or even if you’ve been in Philadelphia, and you hear someone scream “here we are!”

Well, this Jon McCann, a 45-year-old man who was born and raised in Kensington, Philadelphia, and now resides in Bridesburg.

McCann was 39 years old when he began is YouTube channel, The Philly Captain.

“I worked in Center City, and I was delivering suits for a fancy clothing store,” McCann said when asked about the origin of his channel, “I would walk past all these statutes in Center City that I knew nothing about. So, I was just curious about them, so I started googling about the statues. And then I would just show people the statues. The first 500-or-so videos on my channel are just me showing little spots in the city.”

When McCann created the channel, people used to call him the captain because he owned a kayak. “One time, this guy saw me kayaking, and he called the kayak a vessel, then called me a captain,” McCann told.

He changed his name on FaceBook to “Jon “the Captain” McCann, so people called him “the Captain”.

“When I started my YouTube channel,” McCann said, “there was already a captain. So I decided to put the word Philly in front of it, because I’m pretty Philly.”

The channel was born in 2016, and McCann stayed the same exact person.

“I have friends who go to baseball games with me,” McCann told, “and we’ve been yelling at the players in Citizens Bank Park since it opened.”

Everyone in the industry of social media always gets off to a slow start. In a conversation I had with McCann at a Phillies game prior to this interview, he said the hardest to get to is 100 subscribers, then it’s 500, then it’s 1,000. It’s a process, until one clip blows up. That moment for McCann came on July 4, 2021, when Flo Rida came to Philadelphia.

“I’ve been on a pretty good tear of getting viral moments, but the first thing I did that blew up was the Flo Rida thing.”

“I’m bipolar, and the type I am is I always feel sad, I’m always depressed,” McCann revealed, “And during the pandemic, I made a rule where I couldn’t listen to any sad music, just happy and up-beat.”

Then from asking Alexa for party music, he found Flo Rida, and fell in-love.

“All I listened to during the pandemic was Flo Rida.”

When concerts began to ramp back up, McCann was determined to get to Flo Rida’s first concert back, no matter where it was. And it just so happened to be in Philadelphia on July 4th as part of the “Welcome To America” lineup.

“I got there early,” which McCann says he does for everything, “It’s a good way to see what everything looks like and you get to mingle and meet people, and that can come in handy.

“I remember I was sitting in the fifth row, and somehow the people in front of me were Flo Rida’s guests. The news lady wanted to interview one of Flo Rida’s guests, and one of them said “I think you should talk to this guy [McCann], he likes Flo Rida more than I [Flo Rida’s guests] do. So the news lady interviewed me, and I did the crazy thing where I said “I’m ready, are you ready, Flo Rida’s coming” and that was it. From there, it just took off.”

One negative thing was, all we knew about him was he was just “Jon from Bridesburg”.

“I didn’t get a lot of subscribers, or anything numbers-wise. Usually a big thing that helps me are my Kensington videos. They probably help grow the channel more than the Flo Rida thing.”

A big part of McCann’s YouTube channel, which as I write this on September 20, 2022, has 19.9k subscribers and 5,852,000 views, is going on his electric scooter and riding around historical or sketchy parts of the City of Brotherly Love. When asked about the craziest thing he ever saw, he immediately brought up the time he saw, as he put it, a human being die.

“I saw a lady die and saw a few 14-16 year old kids walk past the dead body and not even look at it, not even care, didn’t even startle them. That was pretty shocking.”

He also recalled that he has ran from active shooters twice in the past three months.

“It’s funny when it’s happening, it’s not scary to me, but looking back on it I probably should have been scared.”

McCann uses a camera called the DJI Pocket 2, which is a tiny camera that sits on a tiny gimbal. It is very reliable, as you can keep it in your pocket and take it out whenever you need.

“If I’m out and about, my camera is usually out. And if you ever watch the shooting videos, you’ll always see the crowd running away, and I’m always running towards the shooter. And I don’t know why I keep on doing that, but I want to see the story.”

When asked what content he enjoys making the most, McCann easily answered videos at the ballpark about the Phillies.

“I used to do a lot of history videos and they took a lot of research. Like, I went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art as soon as it opened back up during the pandemic, and I spent eight hours researching about art. While the Phillies videos, there’s no research, I just go, hangout with my friends, I yell at people, and it’s fun. I’m getting sad because this is the last week of home games.”

At those Phillies games, McCann does a lot of heckling. If you ever stand at the bullpens watching an opposing pitcher warm up, you’ll most likely hear McCann heckling the poor guy. Those heckles usually just pop into McCann’s head.

“Sometimes if I’m driving to the ballpark, if something comes up, I’ll try to remember it. I don’t even say anything really bad, I just tell them they stink, their mascot stinks, etcetera. Then sometimes, like the Braves coach [catching coach Eddie Pérez] started yelling at me for no reason, and so now that becomes a thing. So I just take that and I run with it.”

A big part of the “The Philly Captain” brand is McCann’s hatred for popular baseball YouTuber Zack Hample. Hample has caught over 12,000 baseballs at 61 different MLB stadiums, including Mike Trout’s 1st career home run and Alex Rodriguez’s 3,000th hit. Hample’s been accused of trampling children for baseballs and/or stealing balls from kids in the past. McCann isn’t the biggest fan of his, to say the least.

“If you go back and watch any of my baseball videos from last year [2021], I make Zack Hample jokes all throughout the videos. It’s just something I did, I always made little comments about Zack Hample.”

Butch from Manayunk, a consistent caller on SportsRadio 94.1 WIP and a good friend of McCann’s, told McCann a story about how Zack Hample was aggressively going after a baseball as Butch was going after it.

“I was like Butch, your 60, why is he [Hample] running after balls? How many balls do you need? You don’t need to run after balls,” McCann preached.

McCann’s biggest issue is that he’s stealing joy from other people. He says anything over five balls a year is just stealing joy from other fans.

“And everyone goes, oh, he gives the balls away,” McCann says, “well first off, he doesn’t because he has trash cans full of balls. But, it’s not the ball that’s the experience, it’s the catching of the ball, the conversation with the player and the player throwing the ball to you. Having a 45-year-old goofball wearing a glove at a baseball game catch a ball, leaning over you is just weird.

“So I’ve always made jokes about him. He was goofy to my friend Butch, and them the next day, he’s there. He’s just there, like God said “ya know what, get him”. And then I’m sitting with Butch in Ashburn Ally, and I swear to you, you can’t make this up, the guy is running through Ashburn Ally. It’s the funniest thing! He’s running through Ashburn Ally and I’m telling Butch to look out. he just doesn’t know how to act in a ballpark. And, I just yelled at him. And I don’t know if I started it, but everyone hated Zack Hample, but everyone after that just hated him more.”

McCann said when he was at the Eagles game on Monday night in their victory over the Vikings, instead of people saying hello to him, they would say “f*** Zack Hample”. And children come up to him and say “Zack Hample stinks”.

A goal McCann’s set himself for is in four years to a trip around the country in a van. However, he said he feels like something big will happen before then.

“I don’t know what would happen, but I would like to somehow be in the entertainment industry,” McCann says, “I have a lot of people sharing my stuff, a lot of big media companies. I’m thinking maybe I could be a reporter of some type.”

A message McCann is trying to preach with his channel is that Philadelphia is the greatest place in the world to live, even though the city has a lot of baggage.

When asked what the next step for “The Philly Captain” is, McCann seemed uncertain, but then highlighted on some big things to come and highlighting on some recent milestones.

“I don’t know, Ben. One of my [McCann] videos is going to be on an ESPN 30 for 30. I did something with VICE News, they’re going to be using some on my Kensington stuff. Last week, I was the lead story on Action News. And this week my video was the lead story on FOX 29. So, I’m going to keep going around talking to myself riding my scooter, and occasionally yelling at professional athletes while asking celebrities if they put ketchup on a hotdog.”

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