The Philadelphia Inquirer said in February of 1916, Eddie Collins of the Chicago White Sox, had broken “into the ‘Gospel League,’ after the second baseman gave a temperance speech in front of “500 persons” at the Epworth Methodist Church in Palmyra, New Jersey church.
Despite Collins telling his audience he wasn’t “contemplating a pulpit career,” the paper said they “(A)pplauded like World Series fans when he handed ‘booze’ some wallops that would have done credit to Billy Sunday.”
Collins’ talk focused on the evils of alcohol:
“I come to bring a message to your young people, from a baseball player’s viewpoint, of the necessity of clean living and I will be glad if anything I say will help any of you fight the battle of life…Temperate living in necessary for success in any field of action.”
He also praised his former manager from the pulpit:
“Life is a whole lot like playing baseball under Connie Mack’s orders. Mack is the greatest baseball general the world has ever known and any man who has ever played on the old Athletics honors respects and loves the boss.”
Sunday said he approved of Collins taking to pulpit and providing a “boost” for baseball:
“The way to make the great game respectable is for every player to be respectable himself.”
The Inquirer told readers the following day that the Columbia University graduate had little in common with the evangelist who often mangled the language:
“The statement that Eddie Collins is emulating Billy Sunday is entirely erroneous…Eddie had a perfect record at the bat and fielded cleanly with the King’s English.”
Within a week, The Philadelphia Press said:
“Eddie Collins’ dip into evangelism has had a home-run effect among church people throughout the country, and he now is swamped with invitations to address church congregations, bible classes, and Sunday school meeting.
“The requests have swept in upon him at his home in Lansdowne (Pennsylvania) in such a deluge that he said today he had reached the point where he would have to give up base ball if he were to meet all the engagements asked.”
Collins told a reporter:
“I am gratified to learn that my little talk of last Sunday and my rules of life amounted to something but I don’t rank as an evangelist and can’t follow that calling.”
Instead of leaving the diamond for the pulpit, Collins printed and had distributed to churches, several thousand copies of part of the talk, what he called “The Ten Rules of Life.”
Some reporters, including William Peet of The Washington Herald, referred to the list as “Collins’ Ten Commandments:”
First: Safeguard your honor
Second: Don’t overeat
Third: Be a good loser
Fifth: Keep good hours
Sixth: Have courage to do right
Seventh: Don’t think you know it all
Eighth: Be prompt
Ninth: Don’t drink alcoholic drinks
Tenth: Think clean thoughts.
Collins’ statements about alcohol were used by various temperance organizations seeking prohibition. Ads like the one below with quotes from Collins, Ty Cobb, and Connie Mack, and Admiral Robert Peary, as well as boxers Jess Willard, John L. Sullivan, and Joe Stecher appeared in newspapers and handbills distributed throughout the country.