I said it at the time and I will repeat it now. The hiring of Stubby Clapp as the manager of the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds was a brilliant, inspired choice by the parent St. Louis Cardinals player development organization.
It makes tremendous sense from a baseball sense and from a marketing perspective, too. New ownership is investing in interest generation to try to reverse a long-standing decline in attendance at AutoZone Park. Physical plant investments have been made as well as new branding, with the addition of a popular ex-player as manager serving as the cherry on the sundae.
Though the diminutive (5-foot-8, 175 pounds) infielder’s resume shows just 23 games as a major leaguer, all with the 2001 Cardinals, Clapp received the tag “Mayor of Memphis” as a wildly-popular player with the Redbirds from 1999 to 2002.
The left-handed hitter is the club’s third-ranked all-time leader in games played (425), at-bats (1556), hits (418), doubles (87), extra-base hits (128), total bases (609) and strikeouts (300). Clapp is second in Redbirds history in runs (258) and sixth in RBI (167). He is the all-time team leader in triples (19) and walks (222).
Clapp’s fame as an entertaining (he did backflips) as well as a hard-nosed player was to the point he received the honor of the first retired number in team history.
Of course, the number 10 jersey is coming out of the case for 2017, as the team is already selling ticket packages honoring him.
In the following exclusive interview, we get to know the Canadian native from his roots. Clapp looks back at his decision to play baseball ahead of hockey and how that took him to Texas Tech, his time as a Redbird and Cardinal, his extensive international success in the PanAm Games, Olympics and World Baseball Classic, his decision to move into coaching and managing professionally, previously with the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays, and how he rejoined the Cardinals.
Clapp closes with an assessment of the kind of play we should expect from his 2017 Redbirds team, which will take its home field for the first time against the parent Cardinals from St. Louis this Thursday evening.
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