“I Have a Profound Contempt for the Game”

29 Apr

Samuel Porter Jones was one of the country’s most prominent Evangelists from the late 1870s until his death in 1906—the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, home of The Grand Ole Opry, was originally called The Union Gospel Tabernacle and was built for Jones’ ministry.

Jones was not a baseball fan.

Speaking at a tent revival in his hometown of Cartersville, Georgia in 1885 Jones stirred up a crowd with his attack on the game.

Evangelist Samuel Porter Jones

Evangelist Samuel Porter Jones

According to The Atlanta Constitution, Jones read a note from one of the flock which said, “Our children have often gone off to the baseball grounds during this meeting and grieved our hearts,” and asked Jones for his opinion.  The preacher first said he’d hold his comments about the game for a later date, and then proceeded to give his views:

“In this town this year one poor wretch went into the baseball business regularly neglected his work and finally stopped doing anything whereby he could make a living.  His wife had to go to her father’s to get something to eat.  Yes, my views on the baseball question are very clear, and I intend to give those views with a vengeance at some future time.”

And then he continued again:

“I have a profound contempt for the game.  All that agree with me say ‘amen.’”

The Constitution said there were several ‘amen’s’ repeated in the tent:

“It is all very well for little boys under ten years of age to play baseball, but for men it is a crying shame and an abominable sin.  Why, I would not get mad with a man if he should kill my dog if he found him on a baseball ground.  My boy can play baseball until he is 10-years-old, but after that time I will give a hundred lashes every time he plays. ..If this meeting breaks up baseball in this town it will do well; if it does nothing else.  In three years no decent man will be found in the baseball business, if the game is carried on as it is now.”

The evangelist, and others who railed against the game in the late 19th Century did little to curb the growing popularity of the game..

Jones is buried in Cartersville.

Cartersville’s other connection to baseball is seven time American League all-star Rudy York, who played for the Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox and Philadelphia Athletics.  York’s family moved there in his teens, and he played ball on a company team at the local textile mill and for the Atlantic Transportation Company team in nearby Atco, Georgia, before being signed for the Tigers by scout Eddie Goostree in 1933.

Rudy York, circa 1930, with local textile mill team.

Rudy York, circa 1930, with local textile mill team.

York died in 1970 and is buried four miles away from Jones in Cartersville.

Eddie Goostree, signed York for the Tigers

Eddie Goostree, signed York for the Tigers

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