Saturday, July 21, 2018

This Week in Texas Methodist History  July 22

Marshall Preachers Try to Stop Sunday Baseball, July 1889

On July 26, 1889 ministers of several denominations met at the Methodist church to discuss a pressing social issue.  They were concerned about a problem in their city.  Was it racial discrimination?  After all Harrison County had the largest African American population of any county in Texas, but those citizens were systematically denied the most basic rights.  Was it industrial safety?  Marshall had developed significant railroad shops and lumber mills where workers toiled without the most basic safety precautions.  Perhaps it was public health.  Marshall and other cities of the era suffered from numerous sanitation issues---the “common cup” with which thirsty people dipped from the water barrel, the piles of manure left by the draft animals pulling the wagons and carriages, and so on.

No, it was none of these.  It was Sunday baseball.  The ministers issued the following resolution:

Whereas it has become the custom to have base—ball games on Sundays in the city of Marshall, attracting a large number of persons of all ages; and

Whereas we deem it our Christian duty to call the attention of the people thereto;
There be it
Resolved by the undersigned clergymen of the city of Marshall, that playing the game of base-ball on Sunday is a violation of the sanctity of that holy day.
2        That it is antagonistic to the work of the church in advancing the spiritual interest of the community.
1.       That it is demoralizing to the individual participants, the young especially to the community at large.

2.      That we hereby invoke the aid of all good people in discountenancing the evil here complained of.

3.      Resolved that nothing herein contained is intended to apply to the game itself except when played on Sunday or accompanied with betting.

4.      Resolved that a copy of the above resolution be furnished each of the city papers with a request to publish same.  

I wonder what issues that exercise us today will seem similarly quaint 100 years from now.  


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