The day Ben Hathaway saved the show

Michael Pinball Clemons stops for a photo with Ben Hathaway. The Alvinston man got the CFL hero to his show on time after his car wouldn’t start. Heather Wright Photo

Ben Hathaway walked up to the cashier at the Reece’s Corners truck stop and recognized a Canadian football hero. Little did he know it would be an adventure he’ll tell to his grandchildren some day.
The Alvinston man was on his way home from his welding job at Specialty Machine and Fabricating in Sarnia. He got off a little early and was making plans to work on his pickup truck.
He’d stopped to get some gas. As he walked up to the cashier,  he noticed a man who looked very familiar.
“Did anybody ever tell you, that you look like Pinball Clemons?” he asked. Hathaway recognized the CFL great who won four Grey Cups with the Toronto Argos as player and later as coach. Pinball was one of his grandfather’s favourite players.
“He said, ‘I AM Pinball Clemons!’”
Hathaway soon figured out Clemons – who was due to speak at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia’s Proud to Be Canadian series, was running late and stranded.
Clemons, in a hurry to get on the road, didn’t get the key for the push button start car from his wife. When he shut off the car to gas up, it wouldn’t start again.
“I said, ‘Do you need a ride?’” Clemons said yes and soon Hathaway was clearing off the seat of his Saturn to give one of the most celebrated Canadian football players in history a ride.
He could hardly believe it. Hathaway and Clemons talked football along the way when it struck the Alvinston man; “I clued in, I had Pinball Clemons in my crappy little Saturn,” he told The Independent with a huge grin after the show was complete. Clemons called Hathaway up to the stage and thanked him publicly.
Clemons still couldn’t use his car after the show, so Councillor Joel Field gave him a ride home.
It is a day Hathaway won’t soon forget. In true Canadian form, Hathaway says he would have done the same for anyone else. “Nobody wants to be stranded.”