Stubby Clapp Era Is Over
This week Baseball Canada was informed by one of the Houston Astros’ farm clubs, Lexington, that their hitting coach Stubby Clapp would not be made available for Canada’s trip to the Beijing Olympics.
Greg Hamilton, coach and director for the national team, told CBCSports.ca. “It’s a blow. Stubby Clapp brings leadership to the team and in many ways is the face of the program.”
It’s a little sad he won’t be around, even on the bench, because Clapp’s been a central character in the ethos that developed around Canada’s national baseball team.
Clapp — whose real name is Richard Keith Clapp — has won hearts as a national team player since the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg. It took only a split-second to become a cult hero. The 1996 St. Louis Cardinal draft pick (36th round) slapped a bases-loaded single in the 11th inning to beat a more experienced and swaggering U.S. team and put Canada in the semifinals. This was a 5-foot-8 Canadian runt with a funny name, helping the underdog Canucks overachieve and beat the Americans at their national game. Canada eventually won bronze medal.
Clapp also participated in the 2004 Athens Olympics, where Canada finished a respectable fourth. This time around, in the qualifying games, he got hurt trying to manufacture a run. Clapp took out the German catcher at home plate and their knees collided. The Canadian’s knee still isn’t in playing condition.
In 1999, when the Pan-Am players came together, there was a electric Canadian chemistry. Some, who’d played against each other in the minors, hadn’t even realized they had the same nationality.
“It’s like ‘Why didn’t you tell me before.’ It was an instant bond,” Andy Stewart said in Winnipeg upon discovering Jeremy Ware was a fellow hoser.
Clapp, partly because of his memorable handle, was a media star. He revealed he was actually “Stubby the Third,” having a nickname passed on from his grandfather and father. “And if I ever have a kid, he’ll be Stubby the Fourth. He can have all the ridicule I ever had.”
You know you are getting old when your real-life-job takes priority over your ability to play baseball. It is sad to say that Stubby Clapp is all growns up now.