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June 5, 1918: Reverend Billy Sunday Wows the Duluth Commercial Club

On this day in Duluth in 1918, famed professional-baseball-player-turned-Christian evangelist Billy Sunday spoke at the Duluth Commercial Club, as the Duluth News Tribune put it, “Annihilating the Hun with shell fire of adjectives” that included “wiener-eating.” Sunday and his wife ell (aka “Ma Sunday”) were spending time in Duluth, trying to gain support for the wars against both alcohol and Germany. He was preaching a sermon on the “uncertainness of life” in which he “described the rise of man from an inferior position in the animal kingdom to his present place of power but added that man must prepare here for the world beyond.” During his time in the Zenith City, Sunday and his wife stopped by the St. Louis County Courthouse. The News Tribune story of this visit began “A cyclone struck the St. Louis County Court house yesterday morning in the person of Rev. William Sunday.” It seems Sunday was overwhelmed, running up and down flights of stairs, disappearing in and out of rooms, often exclaiming “Oh, My!” and “Gosh!” At one point Mrs. Sunday lost track of Mr. Sunday, but once he was found the two stopped by the desk of every one of the courthouse’s 498 employees to shake hands and say hello. As he left, Sunday told reporters he felt “bully” and said he “just ached to get started at his bi-daily wrestling match with the devil.”

Reverend Billy Sunday. (Image: Public Domain)