We didn’t have Sundaymania, did we?
Continuing on the sports theme, I want to talk about a popular sports figure. Not popular because of his sports prowess – frankly, he’s not that good – but because of other characteristics related to his religious beliefs. This part-time baseball player –
What? Did you think I was talking about a football player?
I was talking about baseball player turned evangelist Billy Sunday. Some excerpts from his Wikipedia article, which references several sources including Wendy Knickerbocker’s Sunday at the Ballpark: Billy Sunday’s Professional Baseball Career 1883-1890.
Sunday struck out four times in his first game, and there were seven more strikeouts and three more games before he got a hit. During his first four seasons with Chicago, he was a part-time player, taking Mike “King” Kelly’s place in right field when Kelly served as catcher.
Sunday’s speed was his greatest asset, and he displayed it on the basepaths and in the outfield. In 1885, the White Stockings arranged a race between Sunday and Arlie Latham, the fastest runner in the American Association. Sunday won the hundred-yard dash by about ten feet.
Sunday’s personality, demeanor, and athleticism made him popular with the fans, as well as with his teammates. Manager Cap Anson considered Sunday reliable enough to make him the team’s business manager, which included such duties as handling the ticket receipts and paying the team’s travel expenses.
While the parallels are uncanny, there is one important difference between Billy Sunday and Tim Tebow. Tebow became a Christian long before he ever got to the NFL. Sunday became a Christian midway through his baseball career.