I Played Baseball on Sunday

Yes, I played baseball on Sunday. So what is unusual about that? Do not all Major League baseball players play baseball on Sunday? Yes, they do. But some may ask, “Isn’t that inconsistent with being a Christian as you claim to be?” “Is not Sunday the Christian Sabbath?” As a Christian I am to be subject to Jesus Christ in all things. So if Jesus taught, either personally or through His apostles, that Sunday is the Christian Sabbath, then as a Christian I would be compelled not to play baseball on Sunday, nor engage in any recreational activity or work on that day. Else I would compromise my faith in Jesus Christ.

On the other hand, I felt strongly enough about worship on Sunday (the Biblical term is “the first day of the week”) that I refused to sign my first professional contract unless I was guaranteed by the baseball authorities the right to worship at the place of my choosing on every first day of the week. Every baseball club honored this request. I am wondering how many sports organizations would be so liberal today.

Historically, even in baseball, the matter of engaging in secular work on Sunday has been controversial although not so much in recent times. Any casual research on “Christian Sabbath” will reveal that this has been an issue among Catholics, Major Denominations, R.L.D.S., various Sabbath keeping groups, etc. Sunday Sabbath keeping has been written into many of the denominational creed books including the Moody Institute, the Westminister Confession of faith, the 17th century puritans, etc. This belief is responsible for the Sunday “blue” laws, the closing of businesses on Sunday and other such things. This, among other things, was probably a factor in the famous evangelist Billy Sunday quitting baseball and engaging full time in religious work. As to my own personal experience, all Major League baseball players play baseball on Sunday. Even the Jewish players I have known played baseball on the Jewish “Sabbath day”. So this presents a real dilemma if you have religious convictions along this line.

Even Major League baseball, in order to address some kind of religious vacuum, established the Baseball Chapel program on Sunday administered through the Commissioner’s office. I am not certain as to the motive behind this. It comes across as “one size fits all” which on the surface seems contrary to religious freedom. I never joined this organization because it’s constitution and by-laws were contrary to my own personal beliefs. I did not then, nor now, believe that it was a wise thing for baseball to become directly or officially entangled in matters of religion – the setting up of devotionals, religious speakers, etc. However, I do strongly believe that the owners should make special allowances and accommodations for sincerely held religious beliefs whether Christian or Jew. A player’s religion does not stop when he puts on a baseball uniform. If I owned and operated a business, I certainly would make every effort to accommodate sincerely held religious beliefs.

This is a bit humorous, but one spring the Yankees roomed me with a young pitcher who was a “Seventh Day Adventist.” I am sure, although it was not stated, that that the Yankees hoped that I would influence his thinking (convert him) so that he could pitch on “the Sabbath Day”. The Sabbath Day according to his conviction was 6:00 pm Friday until 6:00 pm Saturday – the Jewish Sabbath. As you might imagine, it is very difficult to set up a pitching rotation if one of your pitchers cannot pitch on those days. Yes, we did have discussions about religion and I even discussed this with one of his ministers for six hours in two separate sessions, but my interest was purely religious and not secular. If this is a sincerely held belief, then you should remain true to your convictions unless convinced otherwise by the evidence of scripture.

I do believe that the first day of the week is a special day to a Christian. Jesus was raised from the dead on the first day of the week. The first six appearances after His resurrection occurred on the first day of the week. See Matt. 28:1-2; Mark 16:9, 12; Luke 24:6-11, 22, 31; 24:36; John 20:19-24, 26-29. The first gospel sermon proclaiming the resurrected Christ occurred on the first day of the week, the day of Pentecost. See Acts 2. Early Christians assembled on the first day of the week to observe Lord’s supper and engage in various acts of worship. See Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1-2. I believe that the “Lord’s Day” of Rev. 1:10 could be none other than the first day of the week -- the day of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. On the other hand, Gentile Christians were never taught to observe the Sabbath day (Col. 2:16-17), which was simply a Jewish day to celebrate their deliverance from Egypt. See Deut. 5:15; Neh. 9:13-14. There is no record of the Sabbath day being given to any people but the Jews.

It was only later in history that the concept of the “Christian Sabbath” developed. All of this history post dates Christ and the apostles to whom we look to for our authority. In New Testament days, the first day of the week was a regular work day for Christians, even though they considered this day special for the above reasons. The early Christians would assemble either early in the morning or in the evening. Thus, my insistence to be allowed to worship on Sunday at the place of my choice. I did not believe that I could morally and spiritually survive the game of baseball without this regular contact with my brethren. I did not want baseball to substitute their own ideas about worship and devotion and impose these on the players. In baseball’s defense, their Chapel program is strictly voluntary in nature.

This is a great subject and I have only given you a capsule of what the Bible teaches on this and why I could play baseball on Sunday with a good conscience.

---Lindy McDaniel, February, 2011
Contact Lindy by E-mail: lindymcdaniel41@yahoo.com
Home address: 1095 Meadow Hill Drive, Lavon, Texas 75166

Notice: New articles will be posted on the first of every month. This will help my readers to know when new material will appear. Also, I am featured in the Cardinals Gameday Magazine just published. Staff writer Tom Klein devoted seven pages to my career and did a balanced and accurate story. You can obtain this by writing to: St. Louis Cardinals Publications, 700 Clark Street, St. Louis, Missouri 63102. Ask for Cardinals Gameday Magazine, 2010-11, Issue 7 which sells for $5.00.

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