By: Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
DUNEDIN, Fla. _ A week ago Blue Jays of all shapes and sizes were perched on the roost above the right field fence shooting the breeze
Right-hander Brad Penny, who has pitched 14 years in the majors, mentioned wearing a Team USA uniform was one of the greatest thrills of his career to the others in the seats usually reserved for relievers.
Penny told of being part of the USA rotation with Mark Mulder, Ryan Anderson and John Patterson at the 1999 Pan Am Games in Winnipeg and how Canada edged the favored USA on a ball lost in the sun off the bat of “that guy right there” ... Stubby Clapp.
“We giggled about it for a while,” said Clapp. “I said it was a line drive.
“We talked about what had happened since and where we were in our careers.”
Clapp is now a hitting coach at double-A New Hampshire, while Penny had a rough start in Kississimee on Thursday and decided to retire Friday morn.
However, you describe the hit it was a winner as Clapp and Lee Delfino led Canada each hitting .348. Young Steve Buffery covered the tourney like a tarp to start his ball writing career and is now back on the beat for his first spring.
After going 4-0 in round robin play the Canucks beat Guatemala 12-2 and lost to Cuba 3-2 in the semi-final as Omar Linares hit a three-run homer.
We may have teased a few general managers long-distance after the upset win. We were at Yankee Stadium and received calls with noise in the background after USA edged Mexico. “oh, that’s just our anthem, we won.”
Clapp wasn’t aware Penny was on the team until the right hander brought it up.
Standing in short right field as batting practice was about to begin a first baseman, No. 35, arrived to take ground balls.
It was Casey Kotchman, who played for USA at the Pan Am Games in Ajax last summer. Has Clapp teased him yet?
“Figured I’d leave that one alone,” said Clapp, who coached third for Ernie Whitt.
It is always fun to re-visit Canadian gold medal wins. Canada trailed 7-5 in the bottom of the 10th down by two. Under international tie breaking rules each team started the inning men on first and second with none out. Canada failed to bunt, bringing up veteran Peter Orr, 36.
Orr singled in a run and then lefty David Huff on his own -- manager Jim Tracy didn’t call it -- called a back-door pick where Kotchman was to sneak in behind Orr. Except, Huff’s throw sailed wide into foul ground, Skyler Stromsmoe scored the tying run and Orr headed first to third.
When right fielder Brian Bogusevic’s throw sailed over third, Orr picked himself up and headed for home. The throw from third beat him to the plate but the head-first slide dislodged the ball ... as Huff was signalling out.
“Baseball is like a lot of other sports, one bad thing leads to another,” Kotchman said. “It was something the pitcher had liked to do.”
At the warm-up tourney in Cary, N.C. Huff used it to pick of a Team USA national team college player.
“I wasn’t at first but saw from the dugout,” Kotchman remembered. “When he came in to face Peter, he told me on the mound he was throwing over. Second pitch. Peter singled on the first pitch.”
So, Huff, had appeared in 118 games in the majors with the New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers and the Cleveland Indians, decided to go first pitch facing Tyler O’Neill.
“I was sitting there thinking ‘we’re two outs from gold,” USA first base coach Ernie Young told a banquet last month in Langley, B.C. “We’re going to beat Canada in Canada. How great will this be? How am I going to celebrate?’ And then a circus breaks out.
“Canada has Larry Walker coaching first, he’s been around 25 years or so, Orr is Canada’s most experienced player and we decide to run a back-door pick-off play?”
Young said he sat stunned thinking ‘what the hell just happened?’
“When you get beat you get beat,” said Kotchman. “When you lose, you contribute to a loss.
“That ... was a loss.”
Memorable Canuck diamond wins over Team USA
1. 2015 Pan Am Gold Medal Game, Ajax
Canada 7, USA 6 (10 innings)
Three-run HR by Rene Tosoni, Orr scores winner from first. E-1 and E-9.
2. 2011 Pan Am Gold Medal Game, Laos de Moreno, Mex.
* Canada 2, USA 1
Andrew Albers-WP, Scott Richmond-S.
Jimmy VanOstrand double to right knocks in both runs.
3. 1991, World Juniors, pool play (both teams, 5-1) Brandon, Man.
* Canada 10, USA 6
Blaise Lavery two-run homer, Todd Betts three-run homer.
4. 2006 World Baseball Classic, Phoenix
Canada 8, USA 6
Adam Loewen-WP, Steve Green-S.
Inside the park home run by Adam Stern, who also tripled and doubled, triple by Stubby Clapp, two doubles by Justin Morneau.
5. 2012 World Juniors, Pool Play, Korea
Canada 1, Team USA 0 (10 innings)
Ryan Kellogg-WP, Dayton Dawe-S.
Nathan DeSouza knocks in Chris Shaw with winning run after Jacob Robson bunted the runners over, Kyle Hann reached base five times including a double.
6. 1999 Pan Am Pool Play, Winnipeg
Canada 7, USA 6 (11 innings)
Andy Stewart hit a three-run homer. Clapp had the-winning bloop single to left ... when the shortstop and left fielder pulled away at the same time “It will look like a line drive in the box score.”
(* Denotes elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ont.)