PostHeaderIcon Did Heber J. Grant suggest Sunday Baseball?

Heber J. Grant and Salt Lake Red Stockings, August 1877Mormon sports fans are likely tired of the all to frequent arguments over who should play baseball on Sunday and under what circumstances. Anyone who is an active member of the Church and who pays attention to lessons on how to keep the sabbath day already knows all the arguments. This post isn’t about those arguments. Instead, it is about history: specifically rumors about Sunday baseball and members’ reactions to that rumor.

Apparently, in 1913 at least, there was just such a rumor going around, claiming that Heber J. Grant, then an apostle, had told a group of church members that they could play baseball on Sunday.

Today the idea might seem silly—a rumor that no active church member would believe. But 100 years ago the Church was different, and baseball was not just a sport, it was THE sport that everyone played. I think it is easy to see that some young men (likely) would be willing to indulge their wildest fantasies and believe this idea.

So Elder Grant had to set them straight in the Improvement Era (at that time the equivalent of the Ensign):


Sunday Baseball

A short time ago, while attending a stake conference, I was requested to state, through the ERA, my position on the question of Sunday baseball. The brother making the request said that he had been informed that I had publicly advocated the playing of baseball on Sunday. I am opposed to Sunday baseball, and have been so from my boyhood days. When a young man, I was passionately fond of the game, but today am happy in contemplating the fact that, much as I loved to play it, I never played a game on Sunday. I am grateful to know that I also persuaded more than one young man from playing on Sundays.

Not only am I opposed to Sunday baseball, but I am decidedly and emphatically in favor of a Sunday law which will not only prevent the playing of baseball, but which will provide for the closing of theatres and other places of amusement. In my opinion, our legislators, from the date of Utah’s admission into the Union, have neglected a very important duty to the public, and I hope such a law on this subject may be placed on our statute books when the next legislature shall meet.

I never think of the quiet in the great city of London, on Sundays, and compare it with our own city, that I am not humiliated.

I once had the honor to be president of a large livery company. My compensation was the free use of the horses and carriages; but even with this opportunity, I am glad that I never indulged in a Sunday pleasure ride. I regret that any person ever should have given out the impression that I favored Sunday baseball.


Improvement Era v16 n3
January, 1913


So no surprise in his response. But I have to wonder what, exactly, led to the start of this rumor?

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