Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday, (No) Fun Day

The man that I'm about to profile would certainly not approve of the "Sunday, Funday" drinking phenomon amongst today's youths.  In fact, he would not approve of drinking alcohol on any day of the week.

Who is this humbug, you ask?  Well, he shares his last name with this day of the week:

That's right, the famous evangelist, orator and prohibition-pusher was a Major League Baseball player in his youth.  He was a pretty decent one too.

The unique card you see above was made to honor Sunday by one Dave Stewart; no, not the current Arizona GM.  This Stewart was a disabled Vietnam Veteran who, in the 80's and early 90's, created a series of unique baseball card of obscure subjects like Sunday, Kurt Russell and even Abe Lincoln in their baseball-playing days.  He'd give these cards out in exchange for donations, presumptively to pay for living expenses and the cost of printing these professionally done, glossy cards.

Unfortunately, no one knows what became of Mr. Stewart.  All that remains are his fascinating, odd ball creations.

Nope, wrong Dave Stewart

As for the subject of his entry into my collection, we know exactly what became of him.

The Iowa native was born into poverty and even spent some years in an orphan's home before his blazing speed afforded him an opportunity with Cap Anson's Chicago White Stockings in 1883.

Used as an extra outfielder for most of his career, he stole 246 bases (that we know of - records weren't kept before 1886) over the course of his 8 year career, including a whopping 84 in 1890.  It's a good thing he was so fast, because his bat was mediocre at best with a career .248 mark.

But, it was the wild and crazy lives of his teammates which eventually pushed him away from baseball and into the church, especially the exploits of King Kelly, who's spot in the outfield Billy would take when King caught.

 A couple of original Goodwin Sundays that I definitely do no own.

The Stockings played hard and drank harder and were known to basically live on Rush Street.  It was during one of these drunken escapades in 1886 or 87 when Billy and the boys were stopped by a gospel preaching team.  Inspired, Sunday soon adopted Christianity and denounced drinking, swearing & gambling.

It was soon thereafter that Billy was sold to the Pittsburgh Alleghenies (who's uniform he is sporting in the card you see above) in 1890.  Was it a result of his new-found sobriety and faith? That answer has been lost to time.

After a few successful seasons in Pittsburgh and one in Philadelphia, Sunday decided that his time devoted to baseball would be better spent devoted to God and he walked away from the game at the age of 27.

From that point forward, he became one of the most fiery and dramatic orators of his time, holding evangelical revivals all across the country, drawing audiences of thousands.  In particular, he held great power in Chicago - maybe a result of his time with Anson's NL ballclub?

One of his favorite causes was prohibition and he is often credited as being one of the main reasons that the infamous 18th amendment was  ratified in 1919.

We all know how that turned out, but it wasn't for lack of effort on Sunday's part.

Through all of this, Billy never lost his love for the American Pastime.  He often umpired minor league ball games in towns that he held revivals in, attended MLB contests whenever he could, including a game of the 1935 World Series just two months before he died and made appearances in old-timers games.

Which, despite how wonderful the Stewart oddball above is, it's a card that depicts Sunday at one of these old-fogey contests that represents his Cubs tenure in my CATRC:

The reason that this 2013 Panini Golden Age card (inspired by the DeLong Gum Co. set) supplanted the Stewart is because it officially lists him as a member of the Cubs - well, Chicago anyway.  A cubs card always trumps a Pirates card!

Also, let's take a moment to appreciate Panini.  Though they may lack an official license and their logo-less cards sometimes turn out awkward and weird, they sure do put forth some effort.

After all, do you really think Topps would bother to include subjects like Sunday in their sets?  No, they'd much rather play it safe and easy with several new Banks, Sandbergs, Williams, etc. every year.  This would require too much research and to actually go out on a limb for once.

That frustration aside, I felt that Sunday would be the perfect day to show off my two-card deep Sunday player collection - the fact that he played well more than a hundred years ago really limits the cardboard options for him. 

We'll close things out with a song - a song that name checks our subject and his effort to end drinking. It was the first time I ever heard his name, long before I realized he was a baseball player.

Ladies and gentlemen, here's Ol' Blue Eyes himself and his little ode to Chicago - the town that Billy Sunday could not shut down:

No comments:

Post a Comment