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Will Black Friday finally decide B1G West title?


July 5th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

When the Big Ten Conference created the Nebraska/Iowa Black Friday game it was hoped the annual clash would have division title implications on a regular basis. This may finally be the year according to publisher and college football prognosticator Phil Steele, who has the Hawkeyes as the favorite to repeat as West Division champion and predicts the Huskers will be one of the nations most improved teams after a 6-7 finish a year ago.

The teams have yet to meet with a trip to the Big Ten Championship Game on the line. When Nebraska won the division title in 2012, Iowa was only a four-win team and this past season the Hawkeyes had already clinched the division title when they visited Memorial Stadium.

Steele believes the division will come down to the November 25 game in Kinnick Stadium because Wisconsin’s schedule, which includes Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State, will be too difficult to keep the Badgers in contention.

In the five games played between the two since Nebraska joined the Big Ten the home team has won only once.

(Learfield Sports)

The Baseball Whisperer – “a classic Iowa tale” – “a classic Iowa tale” – chronicles career of Clarinda As Merl Eberly

News, Sports

July 5th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

The author of a new book called “The Baseball Whisperer” says it was a “labor of love” to honor a man who helped more than three-hundred players sign contracts with professional teams. Merl Eberly was the founder and long-time manager of the Clarinda As. His team showcased college players hoping experience in a summer league might lead to a professional career. It’s truly kind of a classic Iowa tale.” That’s Michael Tackett, author of The Baseball Whisperer. He’s a New York Times editor who met Eberly when his own son went to Clarinda to play ball.

“He was a big man. He had been sick for a long time, but it didn’t show,” Tackett says. “…He spoke to a group of parents and, you know, he had a real presence about him.” Merl Eberly died of cancer in June of 2011. During research for the book, Tackett discovered Eberly’s pivotal role in developing Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, the stand-out shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals. “It wasn’t guaranteed that you would make the team,” Tackett says. “They guaranteed you a chance to make the team, so they go out on the field and Merl grabs a bucket of balls and just starts ponding balls to him — left, right, with top spin, with back spin, over the second base bag — and Ozzie did not miss a single ball and at that point Merl thought: ‘Well, this skinny kid’ who at the time weighed 140 pounds ‘might just be something.'”

Smith got no notice as a high school player and wound up playing for a small college in California. Smith’s college coach sent him to Clarinda in 1975.  “He comes out to Iowa. He’s never been to the Midwest before…and he reduces the Midwest to a single word: corn. When he comes there, they originally call him ‘Osborne Smith’ and, of course, by the end of the summer, he’s ‘Ozzie” to everybody.” Pat Eberly was an integral part in managing the team and finding other families to host the players for the summer in their homes. Tackett discovered people in the Clarinda area call it “keeping” the players.

“These families just open up their homes, up their arms to people they’ve never met,” Tackett says. “They give them room and board. They take them to practice. They go to the games and cheer them on and they don’t get anything for that other than the satisfaction of doing it and all of that, together, is why I think Clarinda is such a special place.” And it’s why Tackett wanted Clarinda to be a focus of the book as well.

“Clarinda really sticks out to me as a place where there is a glue,” Tackett says. “…The town square has almost all locally-owned shops and restaurants. Many of them have been there for generations. The one rule that Merl had for the As was that nobody gets paid. Everybody has to volunteer their time and effort and now they’ve been doing this for over half a century in all and that’s the still the ethic of the team.” Tackett makes the case in his book that Eberly’s story would have been difficult to replicate anywhere else. Merl Eberly had a brief professional career of his own after graduating from Clarinda High School. He signed a professional contract with the Chicago White Sox and played on a minor league team in Nebraska, the Holdrege White Sox, in 1957.

“In one game he got hit in the face with a pitch and people who were in the stands could hear it because it hit his cheekbone and there was blood everywhere, but he refused to come out of the game and the reason was because he got a bonus,” Tackett says. “He got $500 for when he started the season and then he got $500 if he completed the season.” Eberle played in 43 games in the minor league and his batting average was .281. Eberle was released by the White Sox in 1958.

He went back to Clarinda, starting playing on a semi-pro town team and the team ultimately became a college proving ground. Tackett’s son, who played a “magical” summer for the Clarinda As, won a spot on his college baseball team and is now working in the “player development division” for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Tackett’s wife is an Ames native and his mother-in-law still lives in Ames, so Tackett knows the state from covering presidential politics and from many personal trips.

Tackett is in Clarinda today (Tuesday), to mark “opening day” for sales of The Baseball Whisperer.

(Radio Iowa)

Polanco’s two homers lifts Pirates over Cardinals 4-2


July 4th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Gregory Polanco homered twice and Jonathon Niese turned in his best start in almost a month to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 4-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday. John Jaso also drove in a run for Pittsburgh, which has won five in a row, all on the road. St. Louis had a three-game winning streak snapped.

Polanco’s two-run homer in the sixth off Carlos Martinez (7-6) put the Pirates ahead to stay 2-1. He added a solo shot in the eighth for the first two-homer game of his career. Niese (7-6), who had given up at least four earned runs in each of his previous four starts, allowed just one run on seven hits over 5 2-3 innings.

Relievers Arquimedes Caminero, Juan Nicasio and Neftali Feliz combined to allow one run over the final 3 1-3 innings. Feliz picked up his first save of the season despite giving up a run-scoring double to Matt Carpenter in the ninth.


(Podcast) KJAN Morning Sports report, 7/4/2016

Podcasts, Sports

July 4th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

The 7:20-a.m. Sportscast w/Ric Hanson.


Cubs put Coghlan on DL, recall Candelario from Triple-A


July 4th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

NEW YORK (AP) — The Chicago Cubs have put outfielder Chris Coghlan on the 15-day disabled list with a right ribcage strain and recalled infielder Jeimer Candelario from Triple-A Iowa. Candelario start at third base Sunday in his major league debut. He struck out his first two times up against New York Mets ace Noah Syndergaard.

The 22-year-old switch-hitter was batting .333 with three homers and 15 RBIs in 25 games at Iowa after getting promoted from Double-A Tennessee this season. He had a .452 on-base percentage, a .600 slugging percentage and was selected to participate in the Futures Game for top minor league prospects during All-Star festivities next week in San Diego.

The Mets completed a four-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs by battering Jon Lester in a 14-3 blowout Sunday.

Piscotty’s slam paces Cardinals to sweep over Brewers


July 4th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Stephen Piscotty’s second grand slam of the season propelled the St. Louis Cardinals to a 9-8, rain-soaked victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday and a weekend sweep. Brandon Moss had a go-ahead double in a two-run fifth and rookie Aledmys Diaz hit his 11th homer. The Cardinals lead the season series 7-2.

The start was delayed by rain 1 hour, 20 minutes by rain, there was a 14-minute stoppage in the middle of the sixth and a third delay of 55 minutes in the top of the Brewers’ two-run seventh. Perhaps a few thousand of a crowd of 41,148 stuck it out for a game that lasted three-hours and 48-minutes.

Saturday’s area Softball and Baseball Scores


July 3rd, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Softball Scores
Atlantic 8, East Sac County 2
East Sac County 2, Treynor 1
East Sac County 8, Carroll 4

Baseball Scores

Guthrie Center 10, Riverside, Oakland 7
Van Meter 3, Coon Rapids-Bayard 2

Wainwright, Wong lead Cardinals past Brewers 3-0


July 2nd, 2016 by Ric Hanson

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Adam Wainwright pitched seven innings, Kolten Wong had a two-run triple and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Milwaukee Brewers 3-0 on Saturday. The Cardinals turned four double plays, including the fourth, fifth and sixth. Jonathan Broxton got three outs and Seung Hwan Oh, a longtime closer in Japan and Korea, finished the seven-hitter for his first career save.

St. Louis improved to 6-2 against Milwaukee and goes for a three-game series sweep on Sunday. Milwaukee is 13-25 on the road and has lost 27 of the last 40 against the Cardinals.

Atlantic Saturday Coaches Show 07-02-2016

Podcasts, Sports

July 2nd, 2016 by Chris Parks

KJAN Sports Director Chris Parks speaks with Atlantic Head Softball Coach Terry Hinzmann and Atlantic Head Baseball Coach Trace Petersen about their respective squads as the regular season winds down.


7AM Sportscast 07-02-2016

Podcasts, Sports

July 2nd, 2016 by Chris Parks

w/ Chris Parks