Sunday Baseball

The Major Leagues’ Struggle to Play Baseball on the Lord’s Day, 1876–1934


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SKU: 9780786415649 Categories: , ,

About the Book

Playing baseball on Sunday was a divisive issue in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. On one side of the argument were the owners, who wanted to take in more money, and working people, who labored six days a week and wanted to take in a baseball game on the seventh. On the other side were people who thought that the commandment to keep Sunday sacred ought to be obeyed.
The story of how Sunday baseball went from being an illegal activity in most areas of the country in 1876 to a legal form of entertainment in all major league cities by 1934 is told in this work. It describes the numerous schemes used to play baseball on Sunday, like playing games in strange places, under odd circumstances and at the inconvenience of players and managers, many of whom were arrested and jailed for attempting to play baseball on Sunday.
The book covers the foothold Sunday baseball gained in cities like St. Louis, Cincinnati and Chicago in the 1880s and 1890s, its slow spread eastward as the general attitude of the populace toward Sunday baseball gradually changed, and its widespread acceptance after New York passed a law in 1919 making it legal. It was not until 1934, however, that Sunday baseball was played in all major league cities.

About the Author(s)

Charlie Bevis, a member of the Society for American Baseball Research, is an adjunct professor of English at Rivier University. He has written for Nine, The Cooperstown Symposium, The National Pastime and Base Ball, and is the author of several baseball books. He lives in Chelmsford, Massachusetts.

Bibliographic Details

Charlie Bevis
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 326
Bibliographic Info: photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2003
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1564-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface     1

1 Ball Players Arrested for It     5

2 National League Disliked It     24

3 American Association Loved It     34

4 St. Louis and Brooklyn Exulted in It     51

5 Sabbatarians Hated It     75

6 National League Embraced It     101

7 Cleveland Attempted It     116

8 American League Liked It     135

9 Brooklyn Used Subterfuge to Do It     152

10 New York Wanted It     174

11 Philadelphia Experimented with It     200

12 Boston Finally Got It     214

13 Bribery Scandal Soiled It     228

14 Philadelphia at Last Adopted It     246

15 Legacy of Sunday Baseball     261

Appendix A: Sunday Baseball Firsts in the Major Leagues     271

Appendix B: Significant Court Decisions on Sunday Baseball     275

Appendix C: Massachusetts Ballot Initiative (1928)     292

Notes     293

Bibliography     309

Index     311

Book Reviews & Awards

“Bevis, an expert on early twentieth century New England leagues, has obviously done his research. He offers an accurate and polished behind-the-scenes narrative for each major league city. Senior baseball historians will be impressed by the completeness…virtually the only book on this subject…deserves note as ‘more that just a baseball book’…thoroughly researched…a handy reference…a fun book for anyone to thumb through…enjoyable read”—Nineteenth Century Notes; “Bevis tells the story well, and he provides excellent documentation…another excellent example of baseball writing…recommended”—Choice; “recommend[ed]…amazing…worthwhile…documentation is dazzling if slightly overwhelming”—Nine.