SLAM!Sports
 


 SPORT INDEX
 

 Previous Olympics
 









COLUMNISTS

Mon, August 16, 2004

Clapp-ing for Canada!


ATHENS -- Chastity Clapp summed it up in a single word.

"Perfect!" said perhaps the only woman in the world with that particular name.

Her husband, Stubby Clapp, slapped Canada's first-ever Olympic hit here last night. He also drove in Canada's first-ever Olympic runs, including Canada's first-ever game-winning RBI.

Stubby Clapp. The face of Canadian international baseball since the Pan-Am Games in Winnipeg in 1999.

Stubby Clapp. The man who hit the walk-off home run against Mexico in the game which finally qualified Canada for the Olympics.

And Mike Johnson.

He became Canada's first-ever Olympic winning pitcher, throwing seven innings of shutout baseball as Canada defeated Chinese Taipei 7-0 on a night so cold and windy it was like he was pitching in the spring at Telus Field.

Mike Johnson. Drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays. Played for the Montreal Expos. Currently a member of the Edmonton Trappers playing triple-A baseball in his hometown.

Mike Johnson. The man who pitched the winner against Mexico to qualify Canada for the Olympics.

"Everything kind of came together like you'd want it. It was key pitching by Mike. And Stubby got those two hits to start us going. That was great for him. He's been the catalyst of this club since 1999. He's the guy who makes the key play or gets the key hit at the key time," said manager Ernie Whitt.

NOT EVERYTHING WAS PERFECT

Not everything was perfect. The crowd consisted of Chastity and a couple dozen Canadians and a couple dozen Chinese Taipei fans, a few volunteers and 87 or 88 paying fans, give or take somebody who might have been in the bathroom when we were counting.

If you were there, as I was, when all this started in 1984 with baseball a demonstration sport at the Olympics and Canada playing before a capacity crowd in Dodger Stadium, there was something of an "is that all there is?" aspect to last night. But the Canadians didn't seem to notice.

Particularly Chastity Clapp.

"This is so great for him," she said of Stubby being able to go down in history with all of those Canadian Olympic firsts.

"He's just living his dream. This is the ultimate for him. This is his biggest moment in baseball for Stubby. This is bigger than making it to the major leagues. This is it," she said after she'd hugged her husband on his way to the team bus.

"Perfect," she said. "You couldn't ask for it to be better ... at least not until he wins the gold."

Clapp, who is wearing credentials claiming he's somebody by the name of Richard Clapp ("I'd scratch that off except they probably wouldn't let me in the ball park or back in the athletes village if I did"), drove home Adam Stern and Peter Orr for the first two runs in his first trip to the plate in the second inning of a game in which Orr, who wears No. 4, also drove in a pair of runs.

"I never thought of it that way," said the Stubster when asked about making all that history in one swing of the bat.

"This is exciting. We were so disappointed not to make it here the last Olympics. I don't care if there are 50,000 people in the stands or two, as long as one of them is my wife and they have those Olympic rings painted on the grass.

"Playing our first Olympic game tonight had us all as nervous and excited as we were for the opening ceremonies."

SETTLED IN

Johnson said it took him a couple of innings to settle into it.

"I was excited. I was a little nervous going in. It took me a while to get going. I didn't have my best stuff going in the first two innings," said the Canadian ace.

"Making history is a pretty good feeling."

As for the weather, it featured a regional phenomenon which whips up a whale of a wind and brought the temperatures down from 45C down the road at beach volleyball yesterday to 26C here with a wind chill factor of ... sorry, they've never heard of a wind chill factor here.

Fans were shivering. Seriously. Canadians wrapped themselves in their flags, not for support but for warmth.

"For me it was real nice and comfortable," said Johnson, the right-hander from Sherwood Park.

"I'll take that every time."

It wasn't a weekend of great joy for Canada at these XXVIII Olympic Games, but there were great big smiles on the faces of all our boys of summer.

"It was unbelievable," said No. 4, Orr.

"My jaw was shaking before the game. I started having chills. It was like the opening ceremonies for us."

And the crowd count, which was officially announced at a well-padded 1,082, didn't take away from Johnson's Olympic experience either.

"It still felt like the Olympics," he said.

"As long as I've got 'Canada' across my chest, it'll feel like the Olympics."


Does Canada's low-medal haul in Athens bother you?
Yes, it depresses me
No, it's just sports
I'm disappointed, but not worried
We'll get 'em in Turin
Don't care

Results



CANOE home | We welcome your feedback.
Copyright © 2004, CANOE, a division of Canoe Inc. All rights reserved.