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