Cover image for Sunday baseball : the major leagues' struggle to play baseball on the Lord's day, 1876-1934
Sunday baseball : the major leagues' struggle to play baseball on the Lord's day, 1876-1934
Bevis, Charlie, 1954-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., [2003]

Physical Description:
vii, 318 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV867.6 .B48 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



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.

Author Notes

A member of the Society for American Baseball Research, Charlie Bevis has written for Baseball Research Journal and The National Pastime He lives in Chelmsford, Massachusetts

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Of all the new disciplines and subjects for study that have entered the academic world, baseball has produced more than its share of literature, and it has done so with complete legitimacy. The study of the "national pastime" has given American studies a transfusion of marvelous literature, starting with Harold Seymour's landmark three-volume history Baseball (v.1, The Early Years, 1960; v.2, The Golden Age, 1971, v.3, The People's Game, CH, Oct'90). The university presses have selectively jumped on this opportunity. McFarland leaped in with both spikes, publishing dozens of baseball titles annually. Another high-quality, well-researched study, Bevis's book looks at how playing baseball on Sunday went from an illegal activity (in 1876, when the first professional league was established) to a sanctioned reality (in 1934, when the last major league city capitulated). Bevis tells the story well, and he provides excellent documentation of the religious implications and social norms of the community, which are very much part of the story. In short, this is another excellent example of baseball writing and its role in helping the historian understand the US. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Large collections supporting study of history and the sociology of sports; all levels. S. Gittleman Tufts University

Table of Contents

Prefacep. 1
1. Ball Players Arrested for Itp. 5
2. National League Disliked Itp. 24
3. American Association Loved Itp. 34
4. St. Louis and Brooklyn Exulted in Itp. 51
5. Sabbatarians Hated Itp. 75
6. National League Embraced Itp. 101
7. Cleveland Attempted Itp. 116
8. American League Liked Itp. 135
9. Brooklyn Used Subterfuge to Do Itp. 152
10. New York Wanted Itp. 174
11. Philadelphia Experimented with Itp. 200
12. Boston Finally Got Itp. 214
13. Bribery Scandal Soiled Itp. 228
14. Philadelphia at Last Adopted Itp. 246
15. Legacy of Sunday Baseballp. 261
Appendix A Sunday Baseball Firsts in the Major Leaguesp. 271
Appendix B Significant Court Decisions on Sunday Baseballp. 275
Appendix C Massachusetts Ballot Initiative, 1928p. 292
Notesp. 293
Bibliographyp. 309
Indexp. 311