I have created a website just for the Fastnacht League - www.amishandbaseball.com - click on The Book Trailer tab to see the new video of the book..
Like a page torn from the Fastnacht League, men playing our national pastime on a sunny Sunday afternoon, journeyed back into time and took us with them. Most of the play was easily recognizable as most games played today but the players garbed in uniforms from two centuries ago helped the imagination. The game was pure, the same one played with enthusiasm and joy, centuries before big contracts, free agents and leather gloves.
Sunday, May 6, at Ringwood Manor the Flemington Neshanock baseball club played host to the Elizabeth Resolutes. It sounds trite that a good time was had by all but I can't think of many more events that I have been witness to where everyone involved had a genuinely good time. The weather, the setting, the event made for a wonderful afternoon. What better way to enjoy a Sunday afternoon than with an historic form of a game you love?
As some of you know, I had been working on my novel, The Fastnacht League, for some time. I finally ended the revision and editing process. The novel is about baseball and the Amish living in the Pennsylvania German area near Reading where I grew up.
Several years ago I got very interested in the Amish and had a lot of fun reading about their culture and Old Order ways. At the same time, I got interested in my family roots and collected quite an amount of information for a family tree. To my knowledge, I do not have any Amish ancestors. [The people in my family tree worked in the steel mills, hosery mills, for the Reading Railroad and the glove factories. I also have a special attachment to the storage battery industry.]
Reading has a long and rich baseball history. Carl Furillo, “the Reading Rifle,” was just one of several local players to make it to the major leagues. Just drive around the environs of Berks county and you will notice scores of baseball fields. My grandfather, Clarence P. Bowers, was a driving force behind the creation of Municipal Stadium, home to the farm clubs of the Cleveland Indians, the Boston Red Sox, and the Philadelphia Phillies. I guess it was inevitable that I would write about baseball and it certainly is fun to combine writing about the sport with a story about the area I grew up in.
For the uninitiated, a fastnacht, is a delightful pastry, made by Pennsylvania Germans on Shrove Tuesday, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Christian season of Lent. When my aunt sent me the fastnachts it was like an announcement that spring was near and that meant the beginning of the baseball season.
In February of 2011, I attended a wedding in New Orleans and everyone gushed about the beignets at the famous Café du Monde. They were fabulous and I remember sitting there thinking that they were really fastnachts, eaten outdoors with the soft sounds of jazz drifting down St. Ann Street to Decatur. In the Big Easy, beignets are eaten with powdery confectionary sugar. For fastnachts it’s a personal choice, syrup or powdered sugar. By syrup, I do not mean maple syrup. We’re talking dark Karo molasses spilling over the fastnacht, all over your fingers, and hopefully not your shirt, pants, socks, and shoes.
In Florida, there is the Citrus League. At some point, the west coast baseball clubs stopped spending their spring training in Florida and set up shop in Arizona, thus the Cactus League. What if some young Amish men played baseball in an isolated corner of Pennsylvania? Then I think you’d have a Fastnacht League.