In June 2018, Europe’s best and biggest invitational tournament, Finkstonball, featured 8 baseball teams and 6 women’s fastpitch softball teams, three nights of great open air music and 25 of our members spread out amongst various teams. 15 of these members played for the host Attnang Athletics since most of their regular players were busy working the tournament and festival. The video at the bottom of this post show the highlights.
In 1997, the Austrian club founded the tournament in an effort to raise money for a new stadium. Over the years the tournament grew in popularity and has drawn teams from 23 different nations over the years and in 2016 expanded to include fastpitch softball.
Known for late nights and early mornings, the tournament is unique in the fact that it mixes party with baseball and softball, allowing players from around Europe and sometimes overseas, to take a break from their regular seasons (and their lives) to play the game with no pressure while meeting people from around the globe who also love and die for the sport. This is not to say the games are not serious or competitive, as demonstrated by a bench clearing, chest puffing match in the finals of 2015.
For most of the 2000’s, the evening concerts were held in a nearby tennis hall after drawing the attention of many local party goers, making it the annual place-to-go for the Pfingsten long weekend (Pentecost). Crowds of up to 2,500 per night became a regular thing and helped the club to build their brand new stadium in 2008, but this came with a price. Players, family, friends and girlfriends all had to chip in to pull off this big event every year and the volunteer hours started to pile up. In 2014 the A’s decided it was time to contract the music festival out to an entertainment company and host a smaller, open air music festival at the ballpark. Four years later the bigger event at the tennis hall shut doors and now the A’s find the ballpark packed with players and locals once again, but much more manageable than before. Local Austrian band Wham Bam Body Slam headlines Saturday and every year sets the mood for the tournament with their self described “energetic folk-music with hints of Viennese waltz, old style Austrian folk, classic country and American folk influences. The singer’s rough voice brings out the punk roots of the band members.
Finkstonball was originally called “Pfingstspektakel”, translating to “Penecost Spectacle”. The named was changed to Finkstonball after I (BBJO founder David Burns), decided to create his own name for the tournament in 1999 when he was unable to pronounce it correctly. The name stuck and the A’s ran with it since it was a much more marketable name internationally.
Participants at Finkstonball have the option to sleep for free at a local school gym, using exercise matts as a bed, tent at the field or sleep in the camper vans in the big parking lot. In the morning, breakfast is available at the field and the coffee shack located directly behind home plate is a popular hangout for many of the players who had a few too many the night before. Oh, and don’t forget to grab a Philly Cheese Steak or Hot Dog at the bus shack, the best day-after food money can buy.
The opening ceremony and sideshow entertainment is another aspect which makes Finkstonball Finkstonball. Over the years we have seen BMX stunts, choreographed dance teams mixed in with players (see video), and in 2018, a parcour team. For the smaller fans, Wombl is always nearby, the inflatable batting cage is running most of the day, and the bouncy castle never gets old.
With all that being said, if you are in Europe, whether you are a baseball or softball fan or not, you need to check out Finkstonball. Here are the highlights from 2018: