AKA William Ashley Sunday
Birthplace: Ames, IA
Location of death: Chicago, IL
Cause of death: Heart Failure
Remains: Buried, Forest Home Cemetery, Forest Park, IL
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Religion, Baseball
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Baseball evangelist
His father died a month after he was born, and his mother could not afford his care, so Billy Sunday was raised in an orphanage. He dropped out of high school and worked briefly as an undertaker's assistant before finding success as a professional baseball player. A so-so-hitter but a serious base-stealing threat, it took him four years to crack the starting line-up for the National League's Chicago White Stockings.
Born again into Christianity in 1886, Sunday claimed to have turned down lucrative baseball offers to work as a minister for the YMCA. He traveled with the tent-shows of evangelist John Wilbur Chapman for several years, then started his own traveling show. Wildly popular with Christians, he was the biggest news in town everywhere he went, often eclipsing even war coverage in the newspapers. Routinely speaking before huge crowds, he estimated that he led one million souls to Christ in his career.
The offering plate made Sunday wealthy, but he was never embroiled in scandal beyond the occasional exaggeration of his baseball statistics. He was renowned for his fire-and-brimstone approach, often leaping, shouting, and howling from the pulpit, and for his oft-repeated condemnations of birth control, gambling, swearing, breaking the Sabbath, and especially the evils of liquor, despite having been known to have a fondness for the bottle during his baseball career. His anti-alcohol hectoring was a major factor in America's eventual turn to prohibition. When he died, in lieu of an ordinary obituary, Time magazine published an editorial which described the evangelist entering Heaven and joyously meeting Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, and several of Christ's disciples.
Father: William Ashley Sunday (farmer)
Mother: Mary Jane Sunday
Wife: Helen Amelia Thompson Sunday ("Nell", evangelist, b. 25-Jun-1868, dated 1886-88, m. 5-Sep-1888, d. 20-Feb-1957)
Daughter: Helen Edith Sunday Haines (b. 1889, d. 1932 pneumonia)
Son: George Marquis Sunday (b. 1892, d. 1933 suicide)
Son: William Ashley Sunday Jr. (b. 1901, d. 1938 auto accident)
Son: Paul Thompson Sunday (b. 1907, d. 1944)
High School: Nevada High School, Nevada, IA (dropped out)
Born-Again Christian 1886
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