A baseball star, Billy Sunday played for the Chicago White Stockings (Sox) in the 1880’s and later the Philadelphia Phillies. Born during the Civil War in a log cabin in Iowa, his father, a Union Army soldier, died of pneumonia when Billy was a month old. At age 15, he struck out on his own, working several jobs before playing baseball.
His career took off when he was recruited by A.G. Spalding, owner of the White Stockings and founder of Spalding Sporting Goods Company. Sunday became one of the most popular athletes in the nation. While recovering from a baseball injury in 1887, he heard a group of gospel singers after leaving a Chicago saloon. They invited him to their mission where he experienced a conversion. He began attending YMCA meetings, quit drinking and got married.
A national sensation occurred FEBRUARY 17, 1889, when Billy Sunday preached his first sermon as an evangelist in Chicago. He went on to pioneer radio broadcasting so enthusiastically that the FCC was formed in response.
During the next 46 years, till his death November 6, 1935, over 100 million people would hear him. In his animated style, Billy Sunday said: “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile.”
The Moral Liberal contributing editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.