Cana­dian Clapp re­peats as PCL’s top skip­per

The Peterborough Examiner - - Voice of Business - MELISSA COUTO

Re­tired Cana­dian base­ball play­ers Pete Orr and Adam Stern still get asked the same ques­tion when­ever they talk about their na­tional team days.

Did you play with Stubby Clapp?

“I’m al­ways like: ‘Are you se­ri­ous, that was years ago,’ ” Orr said with a laugh in a phone in­ter­view with The Cana­dian Press on Wed­nes­day, one day af­ter Clapp was named the Pa­cific Coast League’s man­ager of the year for a sec­ond straight sea­son.

“Stubby was just one of those guys,” Stern added. “When you played with him he was like a liv­ing leg­end. Peo­ple knew about Cana­dian base­ball be­cause of him.”

Clapp was rec­og­nized Tues­day af­ter lead­ing the Mem­phis Red­birds — the triple-A af­fil­i­ate of the St. Louis Car­di­nals — to an 80-53 record with seven games to play and lock­ing up a sec­ond straight divi­sion ti­tle in his sec­ond year on the job.

The 45-year-old from Wind­sor, Ont., was brought on as man­ager for 2017, when the Red­birds fin­ished a league-best 91-50.

“Hav­ing played in that league a lot, it’s a tough place to man­age,” said Orr, a scout for the Mil­wau­kee Brew­ers who spent 10 of his 16 pro sea­sons in triple-A. “You’re deal­ing not just with de­vel­op­ing play­ers but also with guys who are in ev­ery scope of their ca­reers — young guys com­ing up, older guys on their way down, vet­er­ans hang­ing on try­ing to sup­port their fam­i­lies.

“I’ve been around some re­ally great man­agers in this game and they’re al­ways real, they’re al­ways hon­est and that’s Stubby.”

Clapp was se­lected by the Car­di­nals in the 36th round of the 1998 draft and played 23 MLB games with St. Louis in 2001.

He ap­peared in over 800 mi­nor­league games in the St. Louis, At­lanta and Toronto sys­tems.

Stern, who now owns a base­ball fa­cil­ity in Lon­don, Ont., said Clapp’s suc­cess as a man­ager has a lot to do with what he ex­pe­ri­enced as a player.

“I think he can re­late to guys,” he said. “He knows what it’s like to be a prospect, he knows what it’s like to play for a long time and maybe not get your chance and he knows what it’s like to fi­nally get your chance. He can re­ally see it from ev­ery per­spec­tive and for triple-A base­ball that’s huge.”

Orr and Stern met Clapp in 2003 when they all played in the At­lanta or­ga­ni­za­tion — Clapp as a 30-year-old who had just signed as a free agent. They also joined forces that year in Panama for a qual­i­fy­ing tour­na­ment for the 2004 Olympics.

All three made the roster for the Athens Games and the 2006 World Base­ball Clas­sic.

“Every­one who played with Stubby will re­mem­ber the back flips he used to do on the field,” Orr said. “You’d start the game and you’d see him run out and do a back flip. That’s some­thing you don’t for­get.”

Clapp had so­lid­i­fied his sta­tus in Cana­dian base­ball well be­fore Athens or that first WBC. He hit an 11th-in­ning, bases-loaded sin­gle to lead Canada over the United States at the 1999 Pan Am Games in Win­nipeg, a tour­na­ment in which Canada won bronze.

“What you’re see­ing now, what Base­ball Canada has be­come, it took piv­otal mo­ments like that to get some mo­men­tum be­hind it,” Stern said. “Stubby is the epit­ome of what Cana­dian base­ball play­ers are — hard-nosed guy, lit­tle bit of an un­der­dog — that’s what he sym­bol­izes.”

Clapp, who pre­vi­ously served as a hit­ting coach in Toronto’s or­ga­ni­za­tion at ad­vanced-A Dunedin and dou­ble-A New Hamp­shire, was also the third base coach for Canada’s gold medal­win­ning team at the 2015 Pan Ams in Toronto.

“I think I was the only guy there old enough to have played with Stubby,” Orr laughed. “But he was great (as a coach), very well-liked and he was there for his play­ers.”

Stern said he wouldn’t be sur­prised if a ma­jor league team hired Clapp in a man­ager’s role soon.

“You’re start­ing to see more clubs take chances on younger man­agers and I think Stubby has paid his dues,” Stern said. “A big league man­ager is a con­sid­er­able step be­cause you’re deal­ing with a lot more but why not him?

“It de­pends what the team is look­ing for, of course, but he’s go­ing to bring a lot to the table.”

CANA­DIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO

Stubby Clapp of Wind­sor, Ont., has been named the Pa­cific Coast League man­ager of the year for the sec­ond sea­son in a row with the Mem­phis Red­birds. While Clapp’s con­tri­bu­tions to Canada’s na­tional men’s team are what he’s best known for in his home­land, many peo­ple man­ag­ing a MLB team is in his fu­ture.

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