1981 National Champion Clarinda A's
The 1980 season marked the 26th consecutive year of amateur baseball in Clarinda. The A's, winners of the Jayhawk League and Iowa's NBC champions ended the season with an overall record of 53-14.
The always tough Jayhawk League agan proved to be a battle down to the wire as Clarinda ended early with a spectacular record of 30 wins and only nine defeats. The wait was beneficial as Dodge City, Ks,; with a strong possibility of the title lost their last game at Liberal to remove them from the top spot in the conference.
Clarinda had traveled to Liberal during the last week of June and took an exciting clean sweep from the previous year's national champs. Winning the opening two games by one-run advantages, the A's poured salt on the wound by crushing the BeeJays 9-3 in the final game.
In late July, the A's marched through the Iowa tournament with wins over Red Oak, Panora-Linden and Dubuque. With a number two seed in the nationals, Clarinda went on after a solid start to have a disappointing end, losing to Ft. Smith, AK and the Wichita Blasi Oilers. T
wo-year veteran Paul Homrig (USC) led all hitters with an astonishing .421 batting average, he was followed by Eric Peyton (Cal-Poly) with a .384 average and first year man Keith Mucha (East Tennessee State) rounded out the top three hitters at .381. Ben Snyder (St. Mary's) led the pitchers with most wins 11-1. Snyders' ERA was 4.06, but followed Jerry Reedy's (Oregon) low 3.29. Snyder came back in the strikeout department with 72 for the 82 innings pitched.
1981 was definitely "The Year of the A's". They won not only the Iowa State Championship, they went on to win the NBC World Series with a perfect 7-0 record. Their overall record that year was 46-14.
From the Official Report of the 47th Annual NBC Tournament: "The Clarinda Iowa A's won the 1981 NBC National Championship Tournament, defeating Liberal Kansas BeeJays in 11 innings by a score of 8-7. The title game was one of the most exciting contests in the 47-year-old history of the event. Clarinda entered the finals with a perfect 6-0 record, while Liberal had suffered one defeat. The A's were seeded fifth in the pre-tournament rankings and the BeeJays were seeded second. The 30 team field was very evenly balanced and not a single game was det3ermined by the 10-run 5-inning rule."
Six A's picked up 12 individual awards during the national event. Keith Mucha (L.A. Valley College) was the Leading Hitter, Most Valuable Player, Leading Homerun Hitter, Most Extra Base Hits and All American Third Baseman; Jack Shupe (Wayne State & former AAA Yankee), Most Popular Player; Chuck Mathews (Texas Wesleyan), Leading Pitcher, All-American Relief Pitcher; Paul Homrig (USC), All-American Right Fielder; Mike Nipper (East Tennessee State), All-American Shortstop and Manager Merl Eberly, received the "Hap" Dumont Award and was Manager of the Year.
For the season, Paul Homrig led hitting at .346, followed by Bob Waite (U. of Indiana), .339; Kevin Wiggins (San Diego St.) .338. Homrig also led in RBI with 53, followed by Nipper, 47; Paul Sokowlowski (San Diego St.), 39 and Waite, 38. Chuck Mathews led the pitchers with a 10-2 record followed by Jeff Peterson (St. Mary's) at 7-1. Peterson had the lowest ERA at 2.20, followed by Brent Bently (U. of Houston), 2.96 and Peterson, 3.11.
In 1982, the team posted a fine 42-22 record. Their overall season was marred by several key injuries which was a factor in their inconsistency. Even though they did win the Iowa State NBC Tournament, they were disappointed with their showing at the Nationals. Leading the team in hitting was Keith Mucha at .397; Mike Nipper, .379 and Bob Waite, .368. Nipper led in RBI with 73, followed by Homrig, 54; and Mucha, 42. Nipper also had 25 HR, Homrig, 18 and Mucha, 13. Jeff Peterson 12-1 led pitching with a 3.17 ERA and 115 SO. Brent Dobbs (Emporia State) finished with a 7-3 record.
The A's finished the 1983 season by grabbing fifth at the NBC World Series and compiled a 42-20 record. Clarinda's only losses at the tourney were against the two finalists, Grand Rapids, MI and Fairbanks, AK. Veteran Jim Wasem, Jr. earned All American Honors after having an outstanding national tourney where he hit .381, drove in seven runs off four doubles and four singles. The A's shortstop was credited with 10 putouts, 21 assists and ended with a .912 fielding percentage with just three errors.
During the regular season, Dean Destefani led the club in hitting with a .345 average, followed by Steve Barnard, .331 and Pat Roessler, .328. Wasem ended the season with the most RBI, 73 followed by Paul Homrig with 40. Veteran Rick Eberly, who owns the record for most walks in a season, received 51 free passes, 10 off his record. Dave Baggott led the team in steals with 23 in 16 attempts. Lefthander Ron Rooker led the team with a 7-2 record on the mound, followed closely by Tim Tahti at 7-3 and Rob Cramer, 6-3. Doug Cox and Chris Sarmiento were perfect out of the bullpen in relief, posting 3-0 marks. Cramer's 3.52 ERA led the staff while Mike Humphry finished at 3.77, Rooker, 3.86 and Tahti, 3.87.
In 1984, the A's finished with an overall record of 44-25 and won their 10th State NBC title. Veteran Paul Homrig, who helped to carry the A's attack late in the season with a.352 average, while Jon Meier finished with the highest average, .360. First year player Ken Warmbier batted .3341, driving in 45 runs, collecting 70 hits and leading the team in runs scored with 65. The outfielder stole 31 bases in 37 attempts to lead the team while another impressive statistic showed him leading the team in walks with 43, usually batting in the lead off sport. Another rookie, John Joslyn, at .326 led the team in hits with 71 and also in RBI with 66.
The ace of the pitching staff was Tim Watkins with an 11-2 mark. He struck out 77, and had an ERA of 2.96. The strikeout title went to Chris Jones with 99 in 71 1/3 innings, a 3.61 ERA and a 7-2 record.
1985 found the A's winning another Jayhawk League championship and finishing with a 42-23 record. Jerry Braatz had the best record for the A's withan 8-2 record and the lowest ERA, 3.30. Veteran pitcher Mike Humprey was lost to the team for post season play a hard shot came back to the mound broke his jaw in the final regular season home stand. He posted a 6-3 record. The real stopper out of the bull pen was Ken Reinsche, a reliever who posed a 5-2 record and led the team in strikeouts with 70. Veterans Jim Olson and Stacy Burkey posted 5-1 and 5-2 records, respectively.
One veteran and a rookie led the A's in the offensive categories, John Joslyn equaled first year second baseman Terry McDevitt in three offensive categories. Joslyn scored more runs (53), had more doubles (14), more RBI (59), than McDevitt. The two infielders tied in at bats (174, hits (63) and overall batting averages (.363). Veteran Rick Eberly posted a .344 average and rookies Rich Bordas and Paul Dishman each hit .337.
1986 saw the A's post a 37-23 record, win the state championship and finish seventh at the NBC World Series, coming back from an opening game loss to win three straight before bowing out. DH Rick Eberly led the hitting with a .390 average and first year player Nikso Riesgo led the team in triples and doubles with a .345 mark. Also hitting above .300 were veteran Rafael Bournigal (.301), Mark Sutherland (.342), Ron Rooker (.304) and first year players Jeff Branson (.315), David Finley (.314) and Pat Brady (.326). Brady led in at bats (134), hits (60), singles (41), total bases (95) and RBI (44).
Clarinda's pitching staff was well rounded with Pete Stansberry unbeaten with a 4-0 mark, while top throwers Dwight Choyce went 7-4; Jeff Parks, 5-1; Troy Blackburn 3-2; Stacey Burkey, 4-4 and Don Fowler, 3-3.
In 1987 the A's put together some pretty impressive statistics in the 43-23 campaign that saw them finish in the first division of the Jayhawk League and advance to the fifth round of the NBC World Series before being eliminated. Nikco Riesgo and Pat Brady led twelve .300 hitters while Allen Rath and Bob Bretwisch led the pitching corps. Brady finished with a .354 batting average, leading the team with 70 hits and a team leading 62 RBI. Riesgo had a hefty .332 average, with a team high 14 doubles (tied with Matt Laiolo), 15 HR and 54 RBI.
Rath and Bretwisch led the pitching staff, which had a combined 4.13 ERA. Perhaps one of the most extraordinary statistics was that the staff as a whole averaged 9l26 strikeouts for every nine innings pitched. Rath put together an 8-3 mark, leading the team in wins, while Bretwisch followed at 6-3. Rath also led in ERA with 2.70 while striking out 83 in 86 2/3 innings and walking just 33. Bretwisch completed seven of his 10 starts while compiling a 3.74 ERA. Andy Benes and Calvin Eldred also had some impressive statistics. Benes struck out 74 batters in 76 2/3 innings while building a 4-4 mark. Eldred averaged more than a strike out per inning while posting a 5-4 record.
From the 1987 team six players, Andy Benes, Rob Maurer, Chuck Knoblauch, Nikco Riesgo, Calvin Eldred and Scott Brosius all played major league baseball, Eldred just finishing the season with the St. Louis Cardinals. Brosius was only with the team a short period of time as he signed after the June draft that year.
The A's of 1988 came on strong down the stretch and finished with a 44-22 record. The team snapped out of a late season slump to win 12 of their last 15 games and were third in the NBC World Series. Clarinda placed three on the All American team, including pitcher John DeSilva, catcher Matt Laiolo and outfielder Jeff Goodale.
Leading the A's pitching staff were right handers Mark Borcherding and John DeSilva. Borcherding posted an 11-2 overall record and a 3.65 ERA, just missing the all star team. DeSilva compiled a 6-1 mark, arriving later in the summer and was named to the tournament team afater pitching 23 2/3 innings with a 4.18 ERA. Darin Cosby, used mostly in relief, ended with a 50-3 mark and an overall 3.25 ERA.
Offense was led by Laiolo with a .392 mark. He was also the RBI leader with 59 and led in doubles with 22. Third baseman Mike Eatinger was second in hitting owning a .369 average. Todd Watson led the club in home runs with seven and second in RBI with 56. Chris Cutliff was the triple leader with eight and Chris Gill led in steals with 31. Ryan Eberly led the team in walks with 34. In the tournament Goodale led in average with .484; Laiolo was second at .249 and Eatinger followed at .393. Goodale also led in the important on base percentage with .556 with Ryan Eberly next at .552.
The end of the decade saw a strange season in 1989 as several injuries and the draft saw only 12 of the original 28 recruits left at the end of the year. Carried by the pitching staff they compiled a 37-10 record, winning ten of the last 11 games. This was also the reintroduction of wood bats which showed up in the lack of power on the team.
Center fielder James Mouton chased Ozzie Smith's stolen base record of 83, but came up short at 76. He led the team in hitting, .361 and RBI, 31. Second baseman Ryan Eberly, playing injured most of the summer, was second in RBI at 30. Dave Markowsky was second in hitting at .317.
Pitching leaders were James Ferguson at 9-3, while the starter with the best ERA was Charley Plumley with a 1.64. Ted Hebert was the workhorse out of the bull pen, working in 22 games and compiling and ERA of 1.42.