Many years ago while living and working in the Iowa City area, Jim Meisner Jr. happened across a postcard with a photo of some Amish children playing baseball.
That image sparked a question in his mind: What would happen if one of them were really good at baseball?
After seeing that postcard more than 25 years go, Meisner began working on a story around that question.
Earlier this month, that story was published as a book.
“Faith, Hope, and Baseball” is the story of Jason Yoder, a baseball phenomenon who is offered a contract to play baseball for the Chicago Cubs.
The money would help his widowed mother with a growing stack of bills.
But Jason is 17-years-old and Amish. He must choose between his Amish life and the outside world, knowing that if he leaves, he may never return to the only life he’s ever known.
The novel is set among the Amish in Kalona, and an early scene takes place at the Field of Dreams, outside Dyersville.
“I have always loved Amish tradition,” Meisner said. “When I lived in Coralville, I would see the Amish at the farmers market, and we would come to Kalona regularly.”
Meisner, who moved back to Virginia 25 years ago, started the story as a screenplay.
That was inspired by appearing as an extra in the CBS Hallmark movie Harvest of Fire, which was filmed in Kalona and Washington in the mid-1990s.
The screenplay eventually evolved into a novel that he continued to craft over the past 25 years.
“I did a lot of research,” Meisner said. “I studied the Amish in Iowa and Pennsylvania. I wanted to be respectful to the Amish and their traditions.
“Everything I’ve known about the Amish, I’ve put into this book.”
He even had an Amish acquaintance read the book to make sure he got things correct.
“It was approved by a Pennsylvania Amish fellow,” Meisner said.
He also relied on a friend, Johnny Grubb, who played on the 1984 World Series champion Detroit Tigers baseball team, to make sure the baseball references were correct.
“He’s happy to tell any baseball stories,” Meisner said of Grubb. “I put in references he suggested.”
In the book, Meisner compares the young phenom’s pitching style to that of legendary Los Angeles Dodger pitcher Sandy Koufax.
“(Grubb) said that was accurate,” Meisner said. “That sort of technical specifics I really paid attention to.”
Meisner, however, confesses that he took liberties with the Iowa high school baseball schedule, placing it in the fall in the story rather than in the summer.
“That’s about the only liberty I take,” he said.
Meisner said that he hopes his appreciation for the Amish community comes across in the book.
“I hope folks will see their community in this book,” he said. “I hope folks are pleased with what I’ve written.”
For more about the book, visit www.FaithHopeandBaseball.com. “Faith, Hope, and Baseball” is available at Amazon and at www.shopimmortalworks.com/bookstore.