OTTAWA – Stubby Clapp has carried the torch for baseball in Canada on the international stage for almost 20 years.
Now, he will get the chance to carry a torch of different kind.
Clapp, along with fellow National Teams alumni Jimmy Van Ostrand, have been selected by the Canadian Olympic Committee to be torch bearers for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games torch relay.
“I’m absolutely honoured,” says the 36-year-old Windsor, Ontario native. “To be able to do something like that, I can’t even put it into words. I’m ecstatic.”
Clapp has represented his country in World Cups and Intercontinental Cups, Pan-American Games, two Olympics and two World baseball Classics.
He played junior college before transferring to Texas Tech University. He played at rookie-class, single-A, double-A, triple-A, 23 games in the Major Leagues and played independent ball.
Now he can add Olympic torch bearer to his long list of accomplishments as he will carry the Olympic flame on December 23rd in LaSalle, Ontario.
Clapp has always been vocal about how wearing his country’s colours have been some of his proudest moments as a baseball player. This time, he represents Canada in a whole new dimension.
“And ironically I get to do it at the winter Olympics and not the summer Olympics,” adds Clapp with a laugh.
“Obviously, hockey has always been very dear to my heart, but I wasn’t blessed with the size or ability to play, but I’m lucky enough to find my way to the winter Olympics.”
But what gets Clapp most excited is representing Canada in Canada for this relay.
“It’s going to be special. To be able to run basically in my hometown and in front of my mom and dad who have supported me all the way through since I was young, and they weren’t able to come to either Olympics, that’s going to make it that much more special.”
It’s going to be a special moment as well for Van Ostrand, who will carry the torch on February 9th in his hometown of Richmond, BC.
The 6-foot-4, 225 pounds first baseman/outfielder in the Houston Astros organization was a member of the 2008 Canadian Olympic Team in Beijing. He has also represented Canada at an Olympic Qualifier and two World Cups, including the 2009 tournament where Canada earned a bronze medal, the first time Canada has won a medal in the history of the event.
For Van Ostrand, he is thrilled of representing his hometown and sees the duality of being an Olympic representative both as an athlete and now as a citizen.
“It’s a great opportunity and it’s awesome that it’s going to be close to home,” says Van Ostrand of becoming a torch bearer. “Being part of the Olympics as an athlete was an amazing experience and now being able to go at it from a different vantage point as a representative and a spectator is a wonderful thing.”