Author steps to the plate for a book on the Batavia community's connection with baseball
In his own words, author Will Bardenwerper has taken "an unconventional and circuitous" journey to Batavia's Dwyer Stadium where he'll spend much of the summer researching his next book.
Working in finance in New York City during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Bardenwerper made a drastic career change about a week later. He joined the Army.
"Wasn't so much I wanted to go overseas and get revenge, I was really just kind of made aware of the sacrifices that were being made at the time by the NYPD, the FDNY and my financial job just suddenly seemed a little bit less meaningful and less fulfilling," Bardenwerper explained during a lengthy conversation while watching batting practice before a recent Batavia Muckdogs game.
After five years as an infantry officer, including over a year in Iraq, he went to graduate school and then worked for four years as a civilian in the Pentagon. It was time for another career change. He became a writer.
His first book "Prisoner in His Palace" tells "the story of the soldiers who were tasked with guarding Saddam Hussein before being assigned to deliver him to his execution."
A publisher then agreed to a contract on another book, which evolved into another twisting tale. After Major League Baseball announced the contraction of the minor leagues, eliminating 40 teams, Bardenwerper's project was going to focus on the Appalachian League as it entered its final season in 2020. In anticipation, he began his off-season research.
Like much of life, the pandemic brought that to halt. What would have been the final season for the Appalachian League was cancelled. His book contract was also cancelled.
The New York-Penn League was also victim of minor league contraction which brought an end to Batavia's affiliation with the Major Leagues after more than 80 years. Last year, sports entrepreneur Robbie Nichols secured a team for Batavia in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League.
Bardenwerper has now secured another book deal and it will focus on Batavia and its connection with baseball. While his research will continue throughout the season, he says the book "Friday Night Lights" provides a glimpse at his approach.
"There was football in that book. But you know, I don't think football was really what that author was trying to get out. He was trying to communicate what life was like in this West Texas community," Bardenwerper said.
"And that's kind of what I'm trying to do here, to communicate the importance that a team like this brings to the community and the happiness that it delivers to the people."
He is providing posts on the journey to his book throughout the season.