Clarinda had a professional baseball team for three years in the MINK League in the early 1900′s. During the 20′s. 30′s and 40′s there was some form of a town team but with onset of WWII, the team was almost nonexistent and efforts to revive the sport were sporadic.
In 1955 a team of local players was formed. Because backing for the team was from local businessmen, they were called the “Merchants”. They played their first game in May 1955 against Shenandoah and won 9-5. Many small towns had teams at the time and Clarinda’s team never had to travel more than 30-40 miles. Toward the end of the 1958 season, the first night games were played.
In 1959, the town team changed its name to the Athletics, which was later shortened to the A’s. The team became a member of the Interstate League. In 1960 the first real effort was made to make Clarinda Baseball Day a big community event. A Board of Directors was formed to promote baseball. In 1961, Clarinda joined the oldest semi-pro league in the area – the Nodaway Valley League.
Clarinda won the 1967 National Baseball Congress State Tournament. This was the teams first encounter with the NBC, which has now become such a big part of the overall A’s program. In 1971, the A’s began to more actively recruit collegiate ball players. In 1972, Clarinda, Indianola, Kellogg, Stater, Ottumwa and Fort Dodge formed the Iowa State League.
It was during the early 1970′s that the decision to go to the collegiate format was made. Active recruiting began and the community financially supported this new direction. Since the team adopted the collegiate concept, over 100 former players have gone on to play in the pros, 12 of them making it to the major leagues. Listed on the major league rosters are: Ozzie Smith, Von Hayes, Andy Benes, Bud Black, Mark Williamson, Chuck Knoblauch, etc.
In 1975, the A’s put together one of the most successful seasons ever. With a blend of seasoned veterans and talented rookies, they established one of the best records in the National Baseball Congress and became the #1 team in the nation.
1976 held many first for the A’s including the initiation of the houseparent program. This continues to be an integral part of the total A’s success story. Many Clarinda people open their homes to keep a player for the summer months. Over the years, there have been some strong and lasting bonds formed with their families and their “summer sons”.
Sponsorship of the team continues to be financed by local businesses and professional people, as it was when started in the mid-50′s and by fundraisers held by the organization, season tickets sales, concession stand and donations.
The Clarinda A’s was featured in the July/August 2011 edition of The Iowan Magazine. To read the article, please click HERE.