“Field of Dreams was only superficially about baseball. It was really about life. So is The Baseball Whisperer . . . with the added advantage of being all true.” —MLB.com
From an award-winning journalist, this is the story of a legendary coach and the professional-caliber baseball program he built in America's heartland, where boys would come summer after summer to be molded into ballplayers—and men.
Clarinda, Iowa, population 5,000, sits two hours from anything. There, between the cornfields and hog yards, is a ball field with a bronze bust of a man named Merl Eberly, who specialized in second chances and lost causes. The statue was a gift from one of Merl’s original long-shot projects, a skinny kid from the Los Angeles ghetto who would one day become a beloved Hall-of-Fame shortstop: Ozzie Smith.
The Baseball Whisperer traces the “deeply engrossing” story (Booklist, starred review) of Merl Eberly and his Clarinda A’s baseball team, which he tended over the course of five decades, transforming them from a town team to a collegiate summer league powerhouse. Along with Ozzie Smith, future manager Bud Black, and star player Von Hayes, Merl developed scores of major league players. In the process, he taught them to be men, insisting on hard work, integrity, and responsibility. More than a book about ballplayers in the nation’s agricultural heartland, The Baseball Whisperer is the story of a coach who put character and dedication first, reminding us of the best, purest form of baseball excellence.
“Mike Tackett, talented journalist and baseball lover, has hit the sweet spot of the bat with his first book. The Baseball Whisperer takes one coach and one small Iowa town and illuminates both a sport and the human spirit.” —David Maraniss, New York Times-bestselling author of Clemente and When Pride Still Mattered