9 responses to Corner Ball – Traditional Game Of The Amish & Old Order Mennonites (15 Photos)
  • Huh! Interesting, and scary regarding the need for the thick carpet of straw to reduce the possibility of injury.

    Now, if only I could learn how to play Dutch Blitz. I have the cards, but I’m the kind of person who needs to SEE it being played in order to understand it/learn it. (Actually, the same could be said for Corner Ball, come to think of it!)

    Nice post on a pleasant Spring day! (At least in my neighborhood).

    Alice Mary

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    Oliver Raendchen
    Comment on Eckball (May 10th, 2018 at 14:54)

    Eckball

    Wir haben ungefähr das Selbe in Deutschland. Es heißt “Eckball”.
    Alle Kinder spielen es.

    We have the same in Germany, and every child knows to play it, as it is also taught at school.

    Best regards; Oliver
    Berlin in Germany

  • I have to question the “fewer farmers” aspect. If Amish youth have time to play baseball on a wide open field, than they have time to play corner ball. Plus, the number of Amish farmers has only shrunk relative to their overall growth, rather than there being less total Amish farmers today than say 50-yrs ago. A good guess is that the actual number of Amish farmers is growing. It’s just that the Amish population itself is growing faster and diverging more into other occupations.

    There are probably others reasons. Baseball for example has long been popular with the Amish even while its popularity has waned among other American youth. Volleyball is another sport that is what not really new to the Amish and has been played among Amish youth for decades (or at least since the 1950s).

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      Comment on Good question, my take (May 11th, 2018 at 07:17)

      Good question, my take

      One way I’ve read it is this (because I’d agree there are very likely more overall households farming in Lancaster County than say 50 years ago even as the % of households involved in farming has decreased).

      It may be that if the game were traditionally associated with the farming life as something played in the barnyard (Stevick mentions a manure covering under the straw in his account in Growing Up Amish – “Participants prefer playing in barnyards where the winter manure accumulation has softened in the sun. They scatter a thick layer of straw on the area, known as the mosch. It provides them a soft surface to duck, dive, and roll as they seek to avoid being hit.”), when a majority of households farmed, there would be widespread familiarity with the game through the community. Significantly fewer Amish in the settlement, but if you picked a random Amish home there’d be a greater chance than today that they’d be farming and play the game.

      As proportionally fewer households played the game this would lead to less familiarity and an opening for other games to become more popular (eg, volleyball). So the game becomes less familiar and less-played proportionally as the settlement grows and the proportion of farmers farming overall decreases (even as their sheer number has likely been increasing). That’s my hypothesis anyway. Unfortunately I didn’t have the chance to go into an in-depth discussion, and if I had I don’t know that we would have pinpointed this as a reason in any case.

      Anecdotally, I have heard that the game is strong among Old Order Mennonites, and I have also separately heard that OOMs tend to stay with farming more than Amish do (vs. going into small business).

      When I asked about this around 10 years back, the person at the time said that youth taking off-season construction jobs meant it was played less than in the past, with the implication that this game would be something played more frequently during the colder months aligning with the less busy farmer’s schedule in winter (that’s how I described what I’d been told in the original corner ball post: http://amishamerica.com/eck-balle-disappearing-sport-of-the-pennsylvania-dutch/).

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    Debbie H
    Comment on corner ball (May 11th, 2018 at 09:45)

    corner ball

    Interesting game. I imagine getting hit with that little ball would hurt more than the big “dodge ball” which could be quite painful.

    In talking about the decrease in youth playing corner ball, I wonder how many English youth have even heard of dodge ball, let alone played it.

    Interesting post, especially the warm manure under the straw part. Yuk. LOL

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    OldKat
    Comment on Time flies (May 14th, 2018 at 21:42)

    Time flies

    The previous post on this sport was shortly after I had read Growing Up Amish: The Teenage Years, so neither the previous post nor this one was anything really surprising to me. what is surprising is that your previous post on Corner Ball was nearly 10 years ago! If asked I would have said 3,4 maybe 5 years ago.

    Wow, how time flies.

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