Evangelist Billy Sunday!

“I tell you that the curse of God Almighty is on the saloon.” —Billy Sunday

Billy Sunday (1862-1935), was a professional baseball player from 1883 to 1891 for Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia teams. He was converted through the street preaching of Harry Monroe of the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago. He left a $5,000 a year salary as a baseball player for a $75 a month for the previously evangelistic YMCA. From 1893 to 1895 was associated with J. Wilbur Chapman. He was an evangelist from 1893 to 1935. It is estimated that over 300,000 people walked the "sawdust trail" to receive Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. (Adapted from "The Wycliffe Biographical Dictionary of the Church," page 387, Elgin S. Moyer, 1982, ©Moody Press, Chicago, IL)

For more information about Billy Sunday, please visit the Christian Biographical Resources for many links, pictures, and articles about this great evangelist.


Billy Sunday was saved because a soul-winner wasn't afraid to go out onto the street preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ!  You'd be shocked how many Christians get upset when other Christians go street-preaching. I remember street-preaching in downtown Chicago one night years ago on Rush Street. I was standing up on a fire-hydrant with my Bible in hand preaching and a taxi-cab driver pulled up in front of me. Tears were just running down his face and he wanted to be saved. I witnessed to him concerning Christ. You just don't forget moments like that. I also remember when a friend of mine has a bag of flour throw at him while preaching. Then came the tomatoes. There is nothing like street-preaching! I was younger then and didn't know any better to stay off the fire-hydrants, but I wanted to reach people for Christ. 

Billy Sunday was hated for his strong stand against alcohol, gambling, and dancing.

"I've stood for more sneers and scoffs and insults and had my life threatened from one end of the land to the other by this God-forsaken gang of thugs and cutthroats because I have come out uncompromisingly against them." —Billy Sunday (1862-1935)

I love everything about Billy Sunday. He reached millions of people for Christ in his lifetime. Billy Sunday didn't pass out menus at his revival meetings, he told it like it was. You got the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth! I was sickened the first time I realized that Frank Sinatra mocks Billy Sunday in the song "Chicago." Though Sinatra himself didn't write the song, his voice made the wicked song a legendary world-renowned performance. I hate that song because it attacks God's man (and God will I add). I've written an article on Frank Sinatra's lousy song... Chicago! 


Billy Sunday is extra special to me because he used to preach at the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago. He was also saved because of the mission's emphasis on evangelism. Many preachers over the years have preached from the pulpit of the Pacific Garden Mission. My father also preached once a week at the mission for many years. He often brought me with him, and once in a while my sister. Often my mother would come with and play the piano (she was close friends with Lucille Becker who played the organ on "Unshackled" since it began in 1950). Lucille went to be with the Lord in 1999 and my mother in 2001. It's a good feeling to know that we were a part of the ministry that God used to lead Billy Sunday to the Lord. Although Billy Sunday graduated into heaven in 1935, his spirit lives on within the hearts of soul winning, sin-hating, sinner-loving Christians.

The mission is located in downtown Chicago on State Street. Unfortunately, the city of Chicago wants the land and the mission will be relocated. It's a shame that the city of Chicago will grant "landmark status" to homosexual Henry Gerber's home, but then deny such a status to the Pacific Garden Mission (that has helped millions of needy Chicagoans over the past century). Howbeit, the mighty works which have been done in Jesus' name over the last century are a testimony to the grace of God and the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Chicago's Infamous '666 Lounge,' Next Door to the Pacific Garden Mission

I always enjoyed seeing the tall sky-scrapers on the way to the mission. My father would preach, and I would quote a Bible verse. I remember My father leading men into the prayer room after the service to show them how to be saved. At the time, I was too young to really appreciate what was going on; but today I look back with warmth in my heart knowing that I was watching history unfold before my eyes. I was there! I was at the Pacific garden Mission where Billy Sunday preached! I thank God for those memories. 

The picture below shows the front of the mission. Those signs are the same signs I remember seeing back in the 1970's and 80's. One thing is noticeably different though (and you're not going to believe this, but it's 100% true). There used to be a tavern next to the mission under the Romans 6:23 sign called the “666 Lounge!” I'm not kidding. What's even more amazing is that the actual address of the bar was 666 South State Street! There was a big sign on top of the bar advertising the “666 Lounge.”

Above: the original Pacific Garden Mission

My father was a Skidrow minister for over 40-years. Amen! My dad grew up in an orphanage in Escanaba, Michigan. He had eleven brothers and sisters. I never met anyone from my father's side of the family. My father was adopted by a Christian couple at age 15 and went to live and work on a farm, but he ran away. Through much hardships and being on his own struggling through life, he eventually found the Lord and became a minister years later. As a boy and teenager, my dad took me with him regularly to preach at Pacific Garden Mission, Olive Branch Mission, Christian Industrial League and others. One man can do much for God. The Bible says that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth (accomplishes) MUCH (James 5:16).

My dad eventually became the director of the Chicago United Mission at 34 S. Desplaines for 15 years and then relocated to Chicago's gang-infested West Side for another 20-years. Hundreds of men (and a few women) found shelter at the mission, sleeping on clothes tossed unto the floor during the winter months when it was below zero outside. They'd receive a hot bowl of soup, bread and butter, preaching, counseling if they wanted it, and hope.

Chicago's urban development shut the missions down, giving a $40 fee to the homeless to relocate. Many of them died in the cold while intoxicated. The city might as well have put a gun to their head. While a homosexual's home (Henry Gerber) from the 1930's received landmark status, the legendary Pacific Garden Mission where baseball player Billy Sunday and thousands of others were saved did not. The city drove them out. Landmark status would have prevented the city from doing so. Chicago is a wicked, evil city.

I remember one afternoon while my father and I were walking into the front door of the mission that we saw an 18-wheeler beer truck. The beer truck was parked right in front of the mission and said on the side in giant letters, “Pure brewed from God's country.” I always hated that hypocrisy of the beer companies, that is, talking about God while being His enemy. The “666 lounge” stood right next door to the mission. Of course, the beer was going to the lounge and not the mission. What irony! Booze is the very reason for which so many men ended up on Skidrow. I tell you, booze is pure brewed from the Devil's country! The 666 lounge was eerie enough without seeing a beer truck blaming God for men's drunkenness. Billy Sunday hated booze because of what is did to families. I also hate alcohol, having grown up around Skidrow and seeing what booze does to people. Booze destroys!

Read “The Hellishness of Beer” article which I have written, and “Gambling is a Sin.” Also visit “Hellivision and Movies.” In fact, look at my whole website...lol. By the way, thank you for allowing me to share the truth with you, it is truly a privilege to help others in the Lord. I am just a sinner saved by God's grace, trying to finding my way through life as the Lord guides (Proverb 3:5-7).

Billy Sunday was a true man of God and cared enough about people to speak THE TRUTH. As a matter of fact, it was Billy Sunday's preaching that helped bring about the Prohibition Era (1919-1933). 

Oh to God that America had ten thousand Billy Sunday's today!!!

“Listen, if I heard shrieks and cries coming from a house and I ran in there and I found a great big broad shouldered whiskey soaked Joe weasel, dragging his wife about by the hair, and over here, two children are unconscious from his blows and kicks and another one screaming in terror, do you think I would apologize for being there? No! I'd knock 7 kinds of pork out of that old hog.” —Billy Sunday

“I am the sworn, eternal and uncompromising enemy of the liquor traffic. I have been, and will go on, fighting that damnable, dirty, rotten business with all the power at my command. I shall ask no quarter from that gang, and they shall get none from me.” —Billy Sunday (from The Curse of Liquor!)

“They don't even give you the pure stuff. If ever there was a jubilee in hell, it was when lager beer was invented. Not 3 per cent of the beer sold is made exclusive from barley, malt, hops and yeast. Look at the breweries. What are those sidetracks for? Why, to bring in the carloads of gincose and sugar and other things they put into the stuff. Pure beer is dark in color and bitter in taste. You poor idiot, you never drank pure beer.” —Billy Sunday (from The Curse of Liquor!)

Evangelist Billy Sunday

I thank God for the Pacific Garden Mission and for Billy Sunday. I'm glad that I was able to tag alone with my father to the mission where he tried to reach the souls of men for Christ. Though the face of the crowd coming in from off the streets for help has greatly changed over the past couple decades, they are still people in need of Christ. Nothing else matters in life if you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. All the wealth, fortune and fame that this world has to offer cannot buy your way into Heaven. 

You are a dirty rotten sinner in need of salvation (Romans 3:19). We are all sinners in God's eyes (Romans 3:23). If you don't get your sins forgiven, you will burn in hellfire and torment forever (Revelation 20:13-15; 2nd Thessalonians 1:8-9)! Do you want to go to Heaven? If so, then you must be born-again (John 3:3-7). Only through faith in the name of Jesus Christ can anyone be saved (John 14:6l 20:31). Turning over a new leaf won't help you. God cannot be impressed with man's self-righteousness (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 10:3-4). Religion is useless! Doing good works is a sure road to Hell. Reforming your ways cannot save you. You need to have your sins washed away by the precious blood of Jesus (1st Peter 1:18-19. Note: All Scripture references are only to the inspired King James Bible). Won't you come to Christ now to be saved? Won't you come to Christ now to be saved? If you would like to be saved, click here.

~by David J. Stewart


Billy Sunday—Man of God!

Watch Billy Sunday Preach! (Windows media Video)

These views of Billy Sunday energetically battling the devil appeared in the Rotogravure Section of The Detroit News Tribune October 29, 1916.

“I've stood for more sneers and scoffs and insults and had my life threatened from one end of the land to the other by this God-forsaken gang of thugs and cutthroats because I have come out uncompromisingly against them.” —Billy Sunday

How Billy Sunday battled demon rum in Detroit

By Vivian M. Baulch / The Detroit News

When Billy Sunday brought his battle against the devil to Detroit in 1916, it was big news -- bigger than the reports from the World War raging in Europe and bigger than visits by mere presidents.

The evangelist in his days with the Chicago White Sox in the 1880s.

      As his train rolled into town that September, more Detroiters were waiting at the station than President Woodrow Wilson found when he visited the that summer.

      The baseball-player-turned-evangelist had come to town to save souls and help the "drys" in their campaign for state-wide prohibition. Michigan voters were to decide the issue in the November election.

      Sunday was rabid in his opposition to demon rum. It was a key part of his crusades, and it had role in his own conversion.

      William Ashley Sunday was born Nov. 19, 1862 in a log cabin in Ames, Iowa, and lost his father in the Civil War when he was a month old. His mother was so poor that she sent Sunday and his brother to an orphanage.

      Sunday struck out on his own at 15, and worked a variety of jobs before becoming a professional baseball player. In 1883, he joined the Chicago White Stockings. Over the next eight years he played for a variety of National League teams.

      Like most ballplayers of the time, Sunday did his share of drinking. One evening in 1887, he stopped to hear a group of gospel singers after leaving a Chicago saloon. They invited him to services at their mission and Sunday accepted. He experienced a religious conversion. Over the next few years, Sunday quit drinking, got married and became an evangelist preacher.

      He began with revivals in small towns and then stormed the big cities, gaining fame and a huge following along the way. His career was at its height when he came to Detroit in 1916.

      Sunday's fiery preaching drew thousands of Detroiters to his revivals -- and thousands of dollars into his collection plates. Those plates were huge dish pans, two feet across and 10 inches deep. His workers passed a pan for each of twelve sections, and they came back full of money. His last day's collection in Detroit in 1916, brought $50,000 from a crowd of 50,000.

Billy Sunday and his wife, "Ma" Sunday, in 1932, three years before his death.

He also attracted the support of Detroit's leading citizens.

Dime-store king S.S. Kresge moved out of his palatial home so Sunday could use it as his battlefield headquarters. Automaker Henry M. Leland gave him a new $8,000 Cadillac as a "personal thanks offering." After a visit with Sunday, Henry Ford said that if Michigan voted for prohibition, the breweries could be converted to produce denatured alcohol as auto fuel for his cars. The ex-governor, Detroit police chief and some pro baseball players appeared with him at the revivals. And, merchant J. L. Hudson was a regular at the sermons.

Sunday's Michigan crusade that fall began in early September and lasted until early November. He claimed 2 million came to see him and 200,000 were converted. But the newspapers put total attendance at about 1 million with 25,000 converts. Whatever the number, Sunday had a big impact.

His preaching was electrifying. He attacked preaching with the fierce competitiveness of a turn-of-the-century ballplayer.

The church needs fighting men, Sunday said, not those "hog-jowled, weasel-eyed, sponge-columned, mushy-fisted, jelly-spined, pussy-footing, four-flushing, charlotte russe Christians.

"Lord save us from off-handed, flabby-cheeked, brittle-boned, weak-kneed, thin-skinned, pliable, plastic, spineless, effeminate, ossified, three-karat Christianity."

His Detroit revival tabernacle stood on a large field between Woodward and Cass at Forest. His stage held a choir of 5,000 singers. And, from that stage he led a frontal assault on sin:

"He appeared on the platform high above the sea of clean shining faces like a wispy cross between a businessman and an angel. Attired in a light gray suit and white shoes, a white negligee shirt of the finest linen and a white silk tie to match, Sunday feinted, walked and ran, crouched and jumped, from one end of the stage to the other, sweating from his gyrations until he was wet as a rag held under a pump.

"By his actions he kept the audience transfixed, hanging upon his every word and movement. He jumped on a chair; down on the floor again. He beat out a cadence with his fist upon the platform in order to emphasize a series of points; on top of the pulpit, he tore off his coat and collar and threw them to the stage ...

Detroiters line up outside the Masonic Temple for a Billy Sunday meeting.

"Wild-eyed at the climax of his address, like an addict going cold turkey, Sunday told his God to help old Detroit. Throw your arms around her. Go into her barber shops, Lord, into the hotels, factories, and saloons. Help the man in the street, the floater, and drunkard. The devil has him almost out. He's on the ropes and groggy, Lord. One more stiff uppercut will finish him. Help him, Lord, to square his shoulders, raise his dukes and cry, Yes, Lord, I'll come when Bill gives the call.'

" Help me, Jesus, to lasso and corral the young man on his way to hell. Help me save the young girl merchandising her womanhood. Help me, Jesus, help me save all in Detroit who are rushing to hell so fast that you can't see them for the dust.' "

-- From "Billy Sunday: You've Got a Job in Detroit," by Larry D. Engelmann, Michigan History Magazine.

Sunday's sermons concentrated on the evils of drinking and the need for the prohibition law.

"There isn't a man who votes for the saloon who doesn't deserve to have his boy die a drunkard," Sunday said. "He deserves to have his girl live out her life with a drunken husband."

Sunday attacked drinkers in his audience as “dirty, low-down, whiskey-soaked, beer-guzzling, bull-necked, foul-mouthed, hypocrites.” He spiked his sermons with stories of drunks shooting family and friends, or axing their wives. [added comment: Billy Sunday tells THE TRUTH about alcohol and killings. It's still happening today, a hundred years later. Please listened to Pastor Danny Castle's timeless sermon, ALCOHOL: PUBLIC ENEMY # 1 (download MP3 sermon).]

Sunday's Detroit crusade "tabernacle" under construction in 1916.

He extracted promises from converts to give up alcohol forever. Women pledged that "lips that touch liquor, shall never touch mine."

Sunday's campaign paid off on election day, when Michigan voted 353,373 to 284,754 in favor of Prohibition.

While Sunday gained the devotion of millions and helped bring Prohibition to America, he also became the subject of derision. One of his revival songs, "Brighten the Corner Where You Are," became a drinking song in the blind pigs that prospered during Prohibition. One line, "Someone far from harbor you may guide across the bar" called the waiter for another stein of beer.

By the time Sunday returned to Detroit for another crusade in 1934, the nation's grand experiment with Prohibition had ended. And, the lawlessness and excesses of that era left a bitter taste with many.

Sunday's 1934 campaign was a disappointment. He attracted small crowds and even smaller donations from Detroiters struggling through the depths of the Great Depression. This time he only collected $2,000.

"This town is as different from the Detroit I knew 18 years ago as sickness is from health," he complained in the revival tent when no one heeded his call to come to the altar to be saved.

A little over a year later, Billy Sunday died in Chicago at the age of 72. He left an estate of $50,000 and a trust for two of his children.

The audience listens raptly to Sunday inside the tabernacle.

(This story was compiled using clip and photo files of the Detroit News.)


Sermons by Evangelist Billy Sunday

“If you want to drive the devil out of the world, hit him with a cradle instead of a crutch.” —Billy Sunday

William Ashley (Billy) Sunday

Billy Sunday Billy Sunday (1862-1935) was an American evangelist born in Iowa. A professional baseball player in the National League, he was saved in 1886. Associated with J. Wilbur Chapman from 1893 to 1895.

An evangelist from 1896 to 1935, he made an attack on liquor the mainstay of his campaigns.

William Ashley Sunday. Short chronology and biographical sketch.
Echoes from Glory. Selective sayings/portrait of Sunday.
Billy Sunday Funeral. November 9, 1935. Includes message by Dr. Harry Ironside.

Archival documents/images:
Billy Sunday. Photographs from Chicago Daily News, 1902-1933.
Hitting the Sawdust Trial with Billy Sunday.
Suggestions for Personal Workers.
Billy Sunday's Help to New Converts.
Papers of William Ashley "Billy" Sunday and Helen Amelia (Thompson) Sunday. Collection includes correspondence, sermons, photographs, campaigns, associates, etc.

Billy Sunday Online. Sermons, images, audio, timeline.

Recommended book: Billy Sunday: Home Run to Heaven by Robert A. Allen. Published by Mott Media, c1985. 160 pages. ISBN 0-88062-125-7.

Recommended video: The Billy Sunday Story. With Dr. Homer Rodeheaver. Beacon Video Ministries, ©1989. 45 min. Available from Sword of the Lord.

Helen SundayHelen Amelia Thompson Sunday (1868-1957): Wife of Billy Sunday. She met him in Chicago when she was eighteen, shortly after his conversion to Christ, and they were married in 1888. During the early years of his ministry, she and the children (Helen, George, William, Jr., and Paul) were separated from him for long periods of time.

After 1907, Helen, or "Nell" (also called "Ma") traveled by his side most of the time, doing much of the planning for his evangelistic campaigns, handling finances, speaking at women's meetings and being there to encourage him.

After Billy's death in 1935, she traveled extensively throughout the country helping to raise money for rescue missions and similar Christian ministries, addressing youth rallies, and was active in the work of such Christian ministries as Bob Jones University, Youth for Christ, and the Voice of the Andes radio station. Two additional photographs of Helen Sunday include one undated and another dated 1912.


Sunday's Birthplace.

November 19: William Ashley Sunday born in Ames, Iowa.
December 22: Sunday's father, William Ashley Sunday, dies of pneumonia at army camp in Patterson, Missouri. Sunday never knew his father. Later, when Sunday was a young child, his mother sent him and brother George to orphanage.

1883 May 22: Sunday begins baseball career with Chicago White Stockings; strikes out his first 13 times at bat.
1886 Sunday led to the Lord by Mrs. Sarah "Ma" Clarke at the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago.
1887 Winter: Sunday coaches baseball team at Northwestern University.
December 31: Sunday proposes to Helen Amelia Thompson.
1888 Sunday traded from the White Stockings to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
September 5: Billy Sunday and Helen Thompson married at the Thompson home in Chicago; Helen subsequently known as "Ma Sunday."
1889 Daughter Helen Sunday born.
1891 Sunday sets record of 90 bases stolen in 116 games.
Philadelphia Phillies offer Sunday $400/month.
Cincinnati offers $500/month.
Sunday takes "secretary of religious department" job at YMCA for $83/month.
1892 Son George Sunday born.
1894 Pittsburgh Pirates offer Sunday $2,000/month.
Evangelist J. Wilbur Chapman visits Sunday and hires him as advance man for $40/week.
1896 J. Wilbur Chapman takes a church and leaves his nationwide evangelism ministry.
1897 January: Sunday holds his first revival meeting at Garner, Iowa; nearly 100 people accept Christ during the week of meetings.
1903 Sunday ordained by the Presbyterian Church.
1907 Ma Sunday begins traveling with Sunday, handling his campaign planning and finances, and speaking at women's meetings.
1909 Homer Rodeheaver joins Sunday as soloist and song leader.
1917 Sunday's famous ten-week New York Campaign; the love offering (over $100,000) was given by him to the Red Cross and other World War I charities; over 98,000 came forward to accept Christ.
1920 Ma Sunday survives serious car accident.
1933 Sunday collapses while preaching in Des Moines, Iowa.
Son George commits suicide.
1935 October 27: Sunday preaches his last sermon, at First Methodist Church, Mishawaka, Indiana; 44 people respond.
November 6: Sunday dies of heart attack.
November 9: Memorial Service at Moody Memorial Church, Chicago, attended by thousands.


“I tell you that the curse of God Almighty is on the saloon.” —Billy Sunday

“Whiskey and beer are all right in their place, but their place is in hell.” —Billy Sunday

Billy Sunday (1862-1935)

Beer is for fools!!! 

Watch Billy Sunday Preach!

More Sermons by Billy Sunday

Hear Billy Sunday's "Booze Kills!" (MP3)

Hear Billy Sunday on Prohibition (MP3) | WAV

Hear Billy Sunday Preaching Against Booze (WAV)

The Salvation of a Nation (by Pastor Jack Hyles)

“Whiskey and beer are all right in their place, but their place is in hell.” —Billy Sunday