“For all who care about baseball, character, and leadership, Michael Tackett has brought us the inspiring and unforgettable story of a phenomenal coach and his legacy.”  -Michael Beschloss, historian and political commentator

Clarinda, Iowa, population 5,000, sits two hours from anything.  There, between the corn fields and hog yards, is a ball field with a bronze bust of a man named Merl Eberly, a baseball whisperer 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 ghetto in Los Angeles: Ozzie Smith.

The Baseball Whisperer” traces the remarkable story of Merl Eberly and his Clarinda A’s baseball team, which he tended over the course of five decades, transforming it from a town team to a collegiate summer league powerhouse.  Along with Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, future manager Bud Black, and star player Von Hayes, Merl developed scores of major leaguers -- six of which are currently playing.

More than a book about ballplayers who landed in the nation’s agricultural heartland, “The Baseball Whisperer” is the story of a coach who put character and dedication first, and reminds us of the best, purest form of baseball excellence.

Michael Tackett is an editor in the Washington bureau of “The New York Times.”  Previously, he was a managing editor for “Bloomberg,” the Washington bureau chief of the “Chicago Tribune,” and a national editor at “U.S. News & World Report.” 

On an autumn evening, Michael Tackett led our Clubhouse conversation about a small-town coach who shaped big league dreams.  Listen in...

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