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2011 Inductees
Volleyball 1990

INDUCTEE 2011 - ATHLETE - Jimmy Rattlesnake


Response Speech
by Phyllis Rattlesnake, the daughter of the Inductee, Jimmy Rattlesnake 

Thank you Sandra for that wonderful introduction

Welcome ladies and gentlemen, honored guests. I would like to introduce my family who are present tonight.  If my family could wave as I introduce you - Sylvia Rattlesnake, who is the oldest of the family, Marie Omeasoo-Rattlesnake, Chris Rattlesnake, the tallest one that you saw, and Jerry Rattlesnake.  I also would like to introduce one nephew, if Jimmy could stand up and wave to everyone, Jimmy carries our father's name and just looking at him, you can see the resemblance.

On behalf of the Rattlesnake family, it's a great honor to be here representing our father's  legendary life and to reflect on his acknowledgments and awards.  As Jimmy Rattlesnake's children we had the opportunity to have known him as our father and a legend.

A legend who will remain in history books through events like this one tonight.  Our father was a kind and humble man filled with laughter.  Being the down to earth person, he spoke very little of his professional baseball career.  Our late mother, Isabel, whom we lost in 1993 did relate some stories to us as did many of our father's friends, team players and fans.  We continue to carry his legend as a baseball pitcher by sharing our stories.

Jimmy Rattlesnake was one of the first Canadian and aboriginal Cree athletes to achieve success through his natural athletic ability as a southpaw baseball pitcher.  He played in the major leagues in the United States and was one of the best to come out of Western Canada.  He was in demand all over the country.

As my friend, Sandra mentioned earlier, Jimmy Rattlesnake was most famous for what was called the ASawdust Ball@.  He would pitch the ball straight for home plate and just before it got there, the ball would do a drop and curve striking the batter out.  Oh yeah, the batters would miss the ball by a country mile.  This is the favorite story of our dad that has been related to us over the years.

Laurel Harney, who was one of our dad's friends and team players always said, "Jimmy was good!" He played with Brooklyn and back in the day, being scouted and chosen to play in the big leagues was a huge accomplishment.  Mr. Harney felt honored to have known our father and also said, "Jimmy Rattlesnake loved baseball and he respected the people he played with and against.  He showed great sportsmanship and was a gentleman in the game of baseball."

In recognition of our father's contribution to baseball, I would like to mention some of his acknowledgments and awards.

1) In 1974 - Jimmy Rattlesnake was named as a lifetime member into the Alberta Baseball Association's Honor Roll and was inducted into the Edmonton Hall of Fame.

2) In 1985 - An award was named after him and presented at the Intercontinental Cup where Harold Northcott was honored with this award in Edmonton.  Baseball Canada who oversaw this event is now the custodian for future presentations for the Jimmy Rattlesnake Award.

3) In 1987 - They presented this same award at their banquet held in Saint John's, Newfoundland and again in 1994 in Quebec.

4) In 1987 - On September 23 at Jimmy's home territory on the Ermineskin reserve in Hobbema, a sports building was built and named after him - Jim Rattlesnake Sports Building.

5) In 1988 - His story was presented in the book called, "To Run with Longboat" that spoke of the "Smilin Rattler" and was written by Brenda Zeman in conjunction with Willie Littlechild.

5) In 1996 - He was inducted into the Indigenous Sports Hall of Fame out of Red Deer, Alberta.

To this day, the Ermineskin Schools present the Jimmy Rattlesnake Athletic Award to future great athletes.  I am proud to say that some of our children have received that award.

Jimmy Rattlesnake who was fondly known as the Smilin Rattler will always be remembered as a man of outstanding athletic ability combined with great sportsmanship.  We lost our father in 1972 when we were all still very young, but as adults, my brothers and sisters, we all still run into elderly people who speak very highly of him.  They relate yet another story of our father's pitches that did break some of his catcher's fingers.

Just two weeks ago, I was in Wetaskiwin at the local glass shop with the Wetaskiwin Times Advertiser in hand. This paper ran a short story and our father's picture.  Of course being proud of our father's legend, I carried this paper around and showed it to the elderly couple who ran the shop. I told them, "This is my dad."  The lady got all excited and beamed with joy saying that she remembered when she was four or five years-old that her dad used to bring this man home to play ball in their backyard in Millet.  She blurted out, "I loved that man!" - while her husband is standing beside her.  She grasped my hand and held it tightly saying to me, "It's an absolute honor to meet the daughter of the great Jimmy Rattlesnake."  These types of encounters always bring pride for our father's memory.

With that, I would like to express a special thank you to Willie Littlechild (sitting at our table) who nominated our father to be inducted into the Wetaskiwin and County Sports Hall of Fame and for being such a great advocate for our father throughout the years.  Thank you, Willie.

I would also like to take this opportunity to express that today, as First Nations people we have many challenges and we still struggle with boundaries.  Further, that the First Nations population of our youth is significant and the talent of our children is phenomenal, unfortunately, the challenges of our First Nations athletes persists.

On behalf of the family, we honor each and every one of you for your support in recognizing our father, the late Jimmy Rattlesnake. 

Thank you.

Read the opening comments made by Sandra Wright when speaking of the legendary Jimmy Rattlesnake.

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