1958 Clarinda A's
First, an introduction to the community. Clarinda, the county seat of Page County, is located in the southwest corner of Iowa and has built a baseball reputation that spreads across the nation. Being a small community of just over 5,000 has not kept the organizers from building a big time amateur baseball program using mostly collegiate players.
Clarinda is well known for its cleanliness and friendliness. It is the birthplace of Glenn Miller and the 4-H movement, has a fine museum of local history and has many activities such as an annual Band Jamboree, Glenn Miller Festival and the Page County Fair to mention just a few. The A's sponsor the annual Baseball Hall of Fame banquet each fall, All Ports Day in the spring and during the season, Baseball Day, 4th of July fireworks and Parent's Week. Little did the organizers who restarted Clarinda baseball in 1955 know where that first try would take the program. Many of those responsible for returning independent baseball to Clarinda are now gone from the scene, but what they started is still alive and healthy some 48 years later.
Baseball had a strong tradition in Clarinda, having a professional team in the MINK League in the early 1900's for three years before returning to their amateur status. During the 20's, 30's and 40's there was some form of town team ball, but with the onset of World War II, the team was almost non existent and efforts to revive the sport were sporadic, until 1955 when Bill Bench and Vernon Woodard formed an managed a team of local players. Because the financial backing for the team was from local businessmen, they were called the Merchants. At that time many small towns had town teams and teams never needed to travel more than 30 to 40 miles to find another independent team to schedule.
The Merchants played their first game in May of '55 and in that first box score lineup were Jerry Jennings, Dean and Gene Bentley, Ralph Taylor, Norman Discher, Merl Eberly, Max Doughterty, Ken Warrick and pitcher Bill Hullinger who threw the entire nine innings for a 9-5 victory over Shenandoah. Clarinda played a light schedule from 1955-56, but in 1957 the team took off for year. They played a "real heavy" game schedule and were 5-5 in the IAMO League and 5-7 overall. When it was evident that interest in baseball was still here in the community, based on the reinstatement of it as a varsity sport at the high school and strong participation in the Legion Cub and Midget programs as well as the town team, there was a call to improve the existing facilities and to add lights to the field. Toward the end of the 1958 season the first night games were played. In an editorial in the local Herald Journal the previous year it said, "the lights if approved, would probably be used one or two nights a week." Today there are few nights that the baseball facility, and the added softball and two Little League fields, are not in use during the months of June and July.
In 1959 the town team changed its name to the Athletics, which was later shortened to the A's. It was also the year the team became a member of the Interstate League. They recorded a 22-4 mark, winning the championship over Hopkins, Maryville and Stanton.