The Small Town Baseball Coach With A Major League Impact46:54

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With guest host John Harwood.

A  real life “Field of Dreams” story of the small town baseball coach who inspired Major League careers.

The A’s of Clarinda, Iowa, after winning the National Baseball Congress title in 1981. (Nodaway Valley Historical Museum Archives/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
The A’s of Clarinda, Iowa, after winning the National Baseball Congress title in 1981. (Nodaway Valley Historical Museum Archives/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

In a tiny heartland town, Merl Eberly built his Field of Dreams – and they came. College baseball players hoping to make it big, including a skinny shortstop from Los Angeles named Ozzie Smith, traveled to Clarinda, IA each summer to play for Eberly’s A's, and learn old-school values. We’ll talk to Smith, and the author of a new book about Eberly’s Hall of Fame story. This hour On Point, the baseball whisperer. — John Harwood


Michael Tackett, editor in the Washington bureau of the New York Times. Author of the new book, “The Baseball Whisperer: A Small-Town Coach Who Shaped Big League Dreams.” (@tackettdc)

Lee Tackett, assistant for baseball operations video with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Former player for the Clarinda, IA A's.

Ozzie Smith, former hall of fame shortstop for the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals. Former player for the Clarinda, IA A's. (@stlwizard)

From The Reading List

New York Times: Amid the Iowa Corn, Faithful Fertilization of Baseball’s Future — "Just outside the home team’s dugout at Municipal Stadium in Clarinda, Iowa, sits a bronze sculpture of Merl Eberly, smiling, eyes wide set, lines on his face from all those baseball games in the Midwestern sun. Behind the sculpture, affixed to the outside of the dugout wall, are three dozen plaques with the names of his former players for the Clarinda A’s who made it to the major leagues. In all, more than 300 others signed professional contracts."

The Wall Street Journal: The Good Old Days Are Now — "Baseball’s nostalgia is often seen as a virtue when it’s more accurately a disease. Baseball is the one business—outside of perhaps politics—that considers it good strategy to tell you its product is less than what it used to be. Baseball is currently watched by more people than at any other time in human history, and played at a higher level that we have ever seen before. If Mickey Mantle ever saw a Noah Syndergaard fastball, he would never stop crying. If Babe Ruth faced Clayton Kershaw, he would call the Dodgers lefty a witch and want him burned for black magic. There were no good old days. The good old days are now."

WUWM: 'The Baseball Whisperer' Uncovers a Hidden Gem of Minor League Baseball — "The Northwoods League is one of a growing number of summer leagues that primarily draw from college baseball teams around the country. And while players from some of the Northwoods League teams have gone on to star in the majors, few summer teams can beat the track record of the Clarinda A's, an amateur team that plays in the small town of Clarinda, Iowa."

Read An Excerpt Of "The Baseball Whisperer" By Michael Tackett

This program aired on August 29, 2016.