Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Billy Sunday: 2/17/1889

A baseball star, Billy Sunday played for the Chicago White Stockings from 1883 to 1891.

Born during the Civil War in a log cabin in Iowa, his father, a Union Army soldier, died of pneumonia when Billy was only a month old. At age 15, he struck out on his own, working several jobs before being recruited to play pro baseball by pitcher and club owner, Albert Spalding, founder of Spalding Sporting Goods. Billy Sunday's career took off and he was one of the most popular athletes in the nation.

In 1887, he and his teammates were walking the streets of Chicago after drinking a few beers, when Billy Sunday heard an old gospel hymn sung at a street corner meeting of the Pacific Garden Mission. He began attending and there experienced conversion. He then went to YMCA meetings, quit drinking and got married.

A sensation occurred FEBRUARY 17, 1889, when Billy Sunday preached his first sermon as an evangelist. He went on to pioneer radio broadcasting so enthusiastically that the FCC was formed in response.

In the next 46 years, till his death November 6, 1935, over 100 million people would hear him. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson met with 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."

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