Let There Be Baseball

The 60-Year Battle to Legitimize Sunday Play


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SKU: 9781476692746 Categories: , , ,

About the Book

Taken for granted by fans today, Sunday baseball was made possible only after decades of contention between evangelical Sabbatarians seeking enforcement of antiquated “blue laws,” and an alliance of “Pro-Sabs” who prevailed against them with strategy and tenacity. At the heart of the struggle was a debate over the First Amendment and the place of religion in public life.
Drawing on case records, this book details the legal and political battles and describes the roles of the judges, law enforcement officers and politicians, and the ordinary citizens who wanted to enjoy baseball on Sunday. The contributions of unheralded civil rights pioneers—such as Joe Neet, John Powell and Lewis Perrine—are documented.

About the Author(s)

Arthur G. Sharp is a Sun City Center, Florida-based writer/editor whose publications include 21 books and more than 2,500 articles on a variety of topics.

Bibliographic Details

Arthur G. Sharp
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 292
Bibliographic Info: 56 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9274-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-5022-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1

 1. William Drennan: The Sabbatarians’ Poster Boy 7

 2. Once Upon a Time… 14

 3. Did Mighty Casey Strike Out on a Sunday? 24

 4. Baseball and Blue Laws 31

 5. Billy Sunday Turns Against Sunday 43

 6. No Need to Feel Blue 51

 7. Cheers for the Fans 58

 8. Relax, You’re with Friends—Sort Of 64

 9. Play Ball—Or Not 74

10. Religion and Sunday Baseball 81

11. Secular vs. Religious 93

12. Courts in Conflict 97

13. “The law is a ass…” 103

14. Sunday and the Law of Intended Consequences 107

15. A Question of Geography 115

16. Bad Attitude, Bad Outcome 124

17. The Ministers vs. the Newspapers 132

18. You Can Lead a Horse to Water, But You Can’t Make It Go to Church 138

19. Civil Disobedience Is Not Always a Bad Thing 144

20. Clever Ruses 151

21. Martyrs for the Cause 156

22. The Murky “Cardinal” Rules of Baseball 164

23. Buddy, Can You Spare Some Change? 169

24. The State of Sunday Baseball 177

25. Follow the Money 185

26. Sunday Baseball and World War I 194

27. Finally, a Breakthrough 203

28. Starting Down a Slippery Slope 209

29. The Volatile ’30s 216

30. There Was No Curfew to End World War II Early 224

31. Between Wars—Again 233

32. The 1950s 242

33. The Last Great Sunday Battle 250

34. Who Ultimately Decided the Sunday Laws Were Outdated? 256

Epilogue 263

Appendix 265

Chapter Notes 267

Bibliography 275

Index 281

Book Reviews & Awards

“Sharp vividly depicts the profound struggle between ordinary citizens desiring to watch or play a Sunday ball game on their only day off in the once-standard six-day workweek and religious dogmatists seeking to control people’s lives under the fig leaf of a state-mandated compulsory day of rest. Through extensive use of contemporaneous newspaper accounts, Sharp richly details the tensions of a civil-rights quarrel for individual choice to pursue secular activities on Sunday without governmental interference in numerous small cities with baseball teams at the amateur, semi-pro, and minor-league levels. This book is a fascinating exploration of the on-the-ground activities conducted over several decades with regard to restrictive laws prohibiting Sunday baseball, which adds significant color to the existing legislative and judicial accounts by historians that have focused largely on cities with major-league teams.”—Charlie Bevis, author of Sunday Baseball: The Major Leagues’ Struggle to Play Baseball on the Lord’s Day, 1876-1934