"The Baseball Whisperer"
From an award winning journalist, a real Field of Dreams story about a legendary coach and the professional-caliber baseball program he built in America’s heartland, where boys come summer after summer to be molded into ball players – and men.
Clarinda, Iowa, population 5,000, sits two hours from anything. There, between the corn fields and hog yards, is a ball field with a bronze bust of a man named Merl Eberly, a baseball whisperer who specialized in second chances and lost causes. The statue is a gift from one of Merl’s original long-shot projects, a skinny kid from the ghetto in Los Angeles who would one day become a beloved Hall-of-Fame shortstop: Ozzie Smith.
The Baseball Whisperer traces the remarkable story of Merl Eberly and his Clarinda A’s baseball team, which he tended over the course of five decades, transforming them from a town team to a collegiate summer league powerhouse. Along with Smith, future manager Buddy Black and star player Von Hayes, Merl taught them to be men, insisting on hard work, integrity and responsibility.
More than a book about baseball players who landed in the nation’s agricultural heartland, The Baseball Whisperer is the story of a coach who puts character and dedication first, and reminds us of the best purest form of excellence.
(Clarinda) -- For the third straight game, the Clarinda A's took a one-run loss. This one, though, was a little different.
The A's trailed 3-2 entering the ninth inning when the St. Joe Mustangs racked up six runs to take a 9-2 lead. Before the A's could try to answer, the rain came down to end the game. Without the completion of the ninth, the final score reverts back to the eighth giving the Mustangs a 3-2 victory.
The A's were probably a little lucky it wasn't worse than 3-2 when the ninth began, as St. Joe pounded out 12 hits through the first eight innings. Meanwhile, the A's had six of their own.
Clayton Daniel and Chase Hamilton had two hits each, while Zack Belanger and Steven Pico Jr. finished with one apiece. Hamilton drove in both runs with Belanger and Pico Jr. scoring a run each.
Jordan Dreibelbis worked six innings, scattering nine hits and allowing three runs (two earned). He walked one and struck out three. Chad Cox followed with two innings of three-hit, one-run ball.
The A's (24-22) will host a doubleheader against Joplin on Thursday beginning at 6:00 PM.
(Clarinda) -- The Clarinda A's are down to their final six games of the summer season and five of them will be within the confines of Clarinda Municipal Stadium.
The A's, who are 24-21, host games tonight, Thursday, Friday and Sunday and will make a quick trip to Sedalia on Saturday. KMA Sports talked with A's manager Ryan Eberly on Wednesday's Sports Feature about the season as it winds down.
"It's been a roller coaster," he said. "Real inconsistent defensively, offensively and on the mound. Also, we're fighting through a lot of guys injured and mental fatigue."
Several A's competed in the return of the MINK League All-Star Game last week in St. Joseph, including Clarinda graduate Dakota Woods, who is hitting .311 with seven doubles and a home run this summer.
"(Dakota) had a fantastic season this spring at Highland," Eberly said. "He's been swinging the bat well for us."
Woods was joined in the All-Star Game by Clayton Daniel, Chase Hamilton, Zack Belanger and Justin Hoyt.
While the season has been a bit up and down, Eberly says there are plenty of positives to take from the summer. "We have a bunch of young kids, and I think they've grown throughout the season. We went through a long stretch where we had three doubleheaders in three days, and that's pretty taxing. But they got through it."
With the season down its final six games, Eberly hopes he will continue to see the effort he's seen throughout the season. "I hope they can carry it back to their schools and show improvement to their coaches," he said. "Just enjoy the summer and use it as a stepping stone for something bigger and better in the future."
Here's a look at the A's remaining schedule:
Wednesday, July 15th - vs. St. Joe Mustangs, 7:00 PM
Thursday, July 16th - DH vs. Joplin Outlaws, 6:00 & 8:00 PM
Friday, July 17th - vs. Joplin Outlaws, 7:00 PM
Saturday, July 18th - at Sedalia Bombers
Sunday, July 19th - vs. Carroll Merchants, 7:00 PM
You can hear the full interview with Eberly by clicking the embedded audio file below.