Follow along with the story of Merl Eberly and a small town in Iowa named Clarinda in this true story about one man and his baseball program. Eberly was a beloved local summer league baseball coach in the small town of Clarinda, Iowa and built a baseball team from nothing. He simply enjoyed that game and saw the possibility of teaching the game the right way on to many college-aged players.
At first the team was largely made up of local players, but Eberly wanted more. He wanted to compete with the teams made up of elite college players and win national championships in the process. He was able to do just that with the help of future major leaguers such as Ozzie Smith and Von Hayes buying into his program.
The book teaches some great lessons along the way on leadership, teamwork and building something from nothing. There were many times where Merl didn't seem to confident in having the money for the team year-to-year. Somehow he always found a way to make summer baseball in Clarinda possible. This is an absolutely terrific read, even if you aren't a baseball fan.
What I Learned?
1. I learned a great deal about summer college baseball in this book. Obviously, most people have heard of the Cape Cod League, but I always assumed there were only a couple of prominent summer baseball leagues, but I was mistaken.
2. Merl made his players hold regular jobs during the day for some spending money and then play at night. This must have been exhausting, but I bet he did it just as much to keep players out of trouble as give them some spending money.
3. I think what impressed me most about Merl was his ability as a salesman. Not only coming up with the cash to finance the team every season, but also selling the baseball program to college coaches all over the country AND getting players to agree to come to a small town in Iowa from across the country.
About the Author
Andy Rupert is a Penn State (B.A. John Curley Center for Sports Journalism 08') and a Southern Miss (M.S. Sport Management 09'). He has spent his whole career working in sports and tourism digital marketing and metrics.