Sunday, William (Billy) Ashley
SUNDAY, WILLIAM (BILLY) ASHLEY
Evangelist; b. Ames, Iowa, Nov. 19, 1863; d. Winona Lake, Ind., Nov. 6, 1935. During a successful eightyear baseball career (1883–91) that included a record number of stolen bases, Sunday displayed little religious interest until 1887 when, after hearing a street preacher, he decided to commit himself totally to God. Encouraged by his wife Helen, Sunday left baseball in 1891 and took a position with the Chicago Young Men's Christian Association. Subsequently he was ordained a Presbyterian minister. His evangelistic career, begun in Garner, Iowa (1895), at the invitation of some associates, was characterized by his unusual acrobatic antics. Sunday was a popular evangelist for about 15 years and reached his peak during the pre-Prohibition era. He has been called the greatest single influence in arousing sentiment in behalf of the prohibition by law of the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages.
Bibliography: f. g. beardsley, Heralds of Salvation (New York 1939). w. t. ellis, "Billy" Sunday: The Man and His Message (Philadelphia 1936), authorized ed.