Baseball fans in the town of Clarinda will celebrate 60 years of baseball as the A’s get ready for a new season. The A’s began as a town team back in the mid 50’s and eventually transitioned to its present day role as a summer league team for collegiate players.
It has also been a family affair for manager Ryan Eberly, who’s father, Merl skippered the team for more than 30 years. Epperly considers the A’s the town’s team, not a franchise and says only the bus drivers get paid. “You know, 90 percent of it is all funded through Clarinda, the businesses and everything,” Eberly says. He says the rest of it is funded by former players and kids who have played from the 1950’s to the present.
The roster is made up of collegiate players from across the country. “What’s kind of neat about the whole process is we’ve been around so long that a lot of the kids that have played for us that are now grown men are coaching,” Eberly says. “And they know the type of kids who are going to succeed in this big metropolis of 5,500 here.”
Eberly says residents also do their part by putting up the players for the summer. He says without the housing program teams couldn’t survive as he says the housing program started around 1976 and has kept them going.
The A’s are part of the Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas or MINK League and Eberly says it gives the college players a taste of what professional baseball is like. He says it’s equivalent to Class A ball and rookie ball when it comes to competition. Eberly says it helps the players most with the mental aspect of getting prepared to play games every night.
Several players who went on to star in Major League Baseball have spent a summer in Clarinda, including St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith. They now have three current Major League players: Danny Descalso with St. Louis, Andrew Cashner of the San Diego Padres and Tony Cingrani with the Cincinnati Reds.
The A’s begin the new season at home on May 25th and the regular season schedule runs through July 22nd.