Monday, November 12, 2007

So Run, That Ye May Obtain

"When I played ball I could outrun any man in the National League," (Billy Sunday) said. "Arlie Latham could do the same in the American League, so we fixed it up to have a race one Sunday afternoon. But in the meantime I got converted. I went to Cap Anson and said : "Cap, I can't do it. I'm converted and I can't run that race on Sunday." Cap said to me, "Bill, don't show the white feather. We've got $12,000 bet on you and all the boys have bet their last cent on you. If you don't win that race they'll have to eat snowballs next winter. You go down to St. Louis and run that race and fix it up with God afterwards."

"Well, I ran the race and I beat Latham by 15 feet and came home with my pockets full of money. I then went before the presbytery and told 'em all and stuck to the church, and after eight years they ordained me as a minister. And then the other day Westminster gave me an honorary "D. D." Say, that's going some for an old sport that's never seen the inside of a college, isn't it?"

-From The Spectacular Career of Rev. Billy Sunday by Theodore Frankenberg

Bill James, in The Historical Baseball Abstract, has a nice account of the big race, which took place in August of 1885. James wrote that "(Latham) had a famous foot race with Billy Sunday, the fastest man on the Chicago White Stockings. The Browns players bet on Latham; the White Stockings, on Sunday. Sunday beat him easily, ran away from him. Latham was maybe the fastest man in the American Association, but Sunday, as it turned out, was way faster."


Anonymous said...

Wow, great story! keep up the great research!

Jeff Kittel said...

I appreciate the kind words and thanks for visiting the blog.