1:10 p.m. July 4
Steve McGranahan is a real firecracker.
But he's not the type of dude you might invite to your Fourth of July barbecue.
He can bend a frying pan with his bare hands. He also breaks 30 pound cinder blocks over his head with a sledgehammer. Who hasn't wanted to try that?
McGranahan is 6' tall and weighs 343 pounds.
He is an old-timey strong man, a slab of Redneck, White and Blue Americana.
McGranahan is billed as "The World's Strongest Redneck," and here's a video snippet of our meeting last Saturday before he performed before a Joliet Jackhammers baseball game at Silver Cross Field in suburban Joliet:
Yes, it was "Redneck Weekend" at the ballpark.............
.....Ironically, Merle Haggard was singing "Okie From Muskogee," a block away from the ballpark at the historic Rialto Theatre. More than 1,000 loaves of bread were given to fans leaving the game. Jackhammer manager Wally Backman participated in "Cowpatty Bingo," courtesy of Norma the Cow.
Many folks came to the game to catch a glane of McGranahan, who has appeared on CMT's "Country Fried Home Videos" and "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno." Keith Ling, 12, reached over a railing to obtain an autograph from "The World's Strongest Redneck."
"I see him on CMT and he's funny," said Ling, who attended the game with his father Randy. They live in Channahon, near Joliet. "There's not a redneck culture out here," said Randy, a 51-year-old development scientist for a microbology lab.
That sure ain't redneck.
Before the game McGranahan reasoned, "I destroy household objects for a living." He picked up a quarter-inch-thick six inch long steel nail (although with his redneck drawl he called it a 'needle.') And he bent the nail, quite effortlessly.
McGranahan, 44, is from Durham, N.C. He is based out of New Castle, Pa. Before becoming a full time redneck, he was an aide at the New Castle Youth Development Center for adjudicated delinquent males. "The East Coast has its comedy and the West Coast has its comedy, but nobody is doing motivational strong man comedy for the rest of America," McGranahan explained. "Until now. There's probably about 10 strong men in the world who put on a good show. I ask kids, 'What's a nail made for?' They go, 'To hold things together.' I say, 'That's what the laws in the streets are for. They hold us together. We can't bend the rules in life.' Then every time they see a nail they're gonna' remember what the fat bald-headed man said."
McGranahan is Jeff Foxworthy, lock, stock and barrel.
"People ask me, 'Who is stronger than the 'World's Strongest Redneck?,'" he said. "I tell them, 'A 110 pound wife.' With his 22-inch wide arms, 'The World's Strongest Redneck' picked up his steel carrying case and headed to the outfield. The mood was light. And he had some heavy lifting to do.