Today in Christian History: November 19th
Billy Sunday is one of America's finest revivalists. He was born near Ames, IA to William Sunday and Mary Jane Corey Sunday. Billy's father, William enlisted in the 23rd volunteer infantry, and he later died of disease. Billy's mother later remarried, but her second husband abandoned the family.
At age ten, likely due to her inability to provide for him, Billy's mother sent the boy to a Soldiers' Orphans Home. This is where he gained his education and first discovered his ability in sports.
Sunday became a major league baseball player 1883-91, and gained popularity. While in Chicago, Sunday overheard a church service at the Pacific Garden Mission. Recognizing some of the hymns that his mother used to sing, Billy began attending services which led to his conversion. His habits of drinking, gambling and swearing vanished. The change in his behavior was noted by teammates and fans alike, however Sunday didn't turn fully to evangelism until 1893.
It is estimated that Billy spoke to a total audience of 100 million before his death in 1935.