Stubby Clapp’s pre-game wisdom
* Stubby Clapp, Canada’s Mr. Baseball on the international stage, weighs in gold-medal game advice hours before Canada meets USA for in the 25th World 18U championship in South Korea ….
ADAM MORRISSETTE – Canada will play USA for gold …. DeSouza leads the band in 10-6 win against Colombia …. Kellogg pitches 8 2/3 scoreless in 1-0 extra-inning win over Team USA …. Canada advances with eight double attack in 10-1 win over Panama …. Newfoundland’s Myles Vincent beats Czech Republic with 7 strong innings …. Chinese Taipei rallies to beat Canucks …. Brett Siddall walks of Canucks vs. Italy …. Jesse Hodges hits 2-out HR in 9th, scores winner in 10th …. Canada rained out in opener …. Canada sets roster for worlds as Italy tourney final rained out with link to other action in Italy.
ALEXIS BRUDNICKI – Faris Adamou’s summer? AS game in KC, workout with Jrs. …. Nathan DeSouza fast tracked to Rogers Centre ….Logan Seifrit part of the Vauxhall brand …. Brock Dykxhoorn one tall drink of water …. Gareth Morgan a veteran … who needs a lift to the park …. Myles Vincent best arm from Newfoundland in decades …. Vid of DeSouza, Burnette, Dykxhoorn, Morgan, Quantrill, Seifrit, Vincent … Rogers Centre interviews ….Jamar Burnette has hits on field, recording studio …. Cal Quantrill passes on Under Armour, impresses at East Coast.
MELISSA COUTO – Ryan Kellogg, Jacob Robson chose school over pro ranks
By Melissa Couto
As the Canadian junior national baseball team prepares for tomorrow’s gold medal game against the U.S. — first pitch 5 AM EST, Saturday — at the IBAF U18 World Championship in Seoul, South Korea, Stubby Clapp wants to remind Canada’s players to “just have fun.”
After all, that’s what he did.
Now the manager of the Tri-City Valley Cats, the single-A affiliate of the Houston Astros, Clapp manned third base for the junior national team in 1991, the last time Canada won gold at the U18 level.
“I didn’t have any expectations [going into the tournament],” he said from the phone in Auburn, N.Y., hours before his Valley Cats take the field for their first playoff game of the season versus the hometown Doubledays. “I was having a fun summer with my friends. We were just excited to be a part of the team.”
Two decades ago, putting together the national roster required an elaborate process.
First, players would have to make their regional teams. If deemed good enough, they’d be sent to play at the provincial level, with the national squad being comprised of the best players from each province.
For Clapp, this meant playing competitive baseball all summer long in 1991, culminating with the U18 tournament in Brandon, Man. that July.
“That was a long summer of travelling and playing baseball and as a player, you just hope to get the opportunity to be selected for Team Canada,” the Windsor native said. “I don’t even remember how long I was away from home. I kept making team after team and the icing on the cake was being able to come back with a gold medal.”
After getting off to a shaky start in the 1991 tournament’s exhibition stage, Canada battled back to win against the Netherlands, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Italy and the United States en route to their final game against Chinese Taipei.
“Sure, we were considered the underdogs, but we had the home field advantage and we started to win games,” Clapp said, recalling the tournament in Brandon 21 years later. “Things just started to turn in our favour.”
First there was the dramatic come-from-behind victory over the highly talented American squad in which British Columbia native Blaise Laveay smacked a two-run home run in the sixth inning to give Canada the lead.
Then there was the much-anticipated gold medal game. With a crowd of over 5,000 watching at Westbran Stadium, Canada defeated Chinese Taipei 5-2.
“I remember arguing with [pitcher] Jason Birmingham, fighting with him over the last out of the gold medal game,” Clapp said with a chuckle. “It ricocheted off of him and I was coming across from third base and we were both arguing for the ball saying ‘I got it, I got it,’ ‘no, I got it.’ He ended up getting it.
“After that final out, I thought: we did it! It was awesome — just pure excitement.”
Now, 21 years later, Team Canada will get the chance to repeat history and take the gold in the U18 World Championship for a second time.
Though managing the Valley Cats in New York, Clapp has kept himself informed on the progress of the current team, even getting the chance to speak with some of Canada’s players in the recent past.
“Every once in a while I run into the junior team in Florida when they’re training,” he said. “I’ll spend time with them, talk to them and help encourage their dreams.
“I let them know that if they continue to work hard then anything’s possible, especially with the way the program is now. We didn’t have anything that they did.”
Reminiscing on the beginnings of his playing career, Clapp described a baseball program in Canada in its infancy.
“It was true blue-collar where everything that we had we worked for and everything we were given, our coaches had gotten for us by working for it or through their own connections,” he said. “I can’t say enough about the people who started our program — we couldn’t have done it without them — they really pulled together to get that program started.
“[Now] there are baseball programs in Canada like Vauxhall Academy in Alberta and players get to go to instructional leagues and to the Dominican. The program has grown so much and it’s so much better for the kids because they’re getting exposed to better baseball.
“Ray Carter [President of Baseball Canada] and Jim Baba [Director General] have done an amazing job to get these kids better opportunities.”
Having witnessed a considerable growth in Canadian baseball in his lifetime, Clapp is proud of Canada’s achievements at all levels of the sport.
“Now you’re seeing guys get a chance in the minor leagues, and you’re seeing them contribute in the big leagues,” he said. “You’re seeing guys like Justin Morneau, Russell Martin, MVP-type guys, Ryan Dempster, guys like that that are hugely contributing at the Major League level.”
Though some of Team Canada’s stars might soon get the chance to join the ranks of Morneau, Martin and Dempster, their focus is on tomorrow’s game, and regardless of the outcome, Clapp has some sound advice.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, so absorb every minute of it. Enjoy it and have fun.”