Billy Sunday: The Ballplaying Evangelist
Billy Sunday was a major league baseball player turned evangelist. Find out more about this former outfielder who became a Christian preacher.
Billy Sunday was born just as the Civil War was heating up. He came into the world in 1862, but there was another civil war taking place once Sunday became a man. He had to decide whether to spend his life in baseball or follow his heart and serve as a minister.
Billy Sunday played in 499 games in his major league career. Not enough to be a well-known Hall of Famer, but Sunday's life was more interesting than most of his famous contemporaries.
He began his career with Chicago in 1883 and continued there until 1887. During this time, he was known as the fastest man in the National League. He stayed in the NL, joining Pittsburgh in 1888 and remaining until 1890. Sunday wasn't a great hitter. But he was VERY fast. In just 499 games, he stole a phenomenal 246 bases. He homered 12 times and recorded 498 hits.
In an era when ballplayers were seen as scoundrels and roughnecks, Sunday stood out for his Christian beliefs. Undergoing a religious awakening in 1887, Sunday refused to play games on the Sabbath day. His free time was often spent speaking before YMCA groups in the East and
as his career wound down with Philadelphia in 1890, he was about to begin a new chaper in his life.
Sunday began touring the nation, preaching the gospel while using his baseball career to preach to crowds that often found him mesmerizing. Sunday's sermons were colorful and his reputation grew. By the 1910s, he was famous across the nation as the ex-ballplayer who became a devoted servant of God. Billy Sunday was 73 when he passed away in 1935.