Billy Sunday was one of the most famous residents of the Hood River valley. He was a well known baseball player in the 1880s, playing center field for the Chicago White Stockings, the Pittsburgh Alleghenys, and the Philadelphia Phillies. He hung up his mitt in the 1890's and became an evangelist, preaching to large crowds across the country in the age before radio.
Here we see him at his farm in the Hood River valley chopping wood, as his wife Nell ("Ma") looks on. Neither Ma nor the dog seem overly concerned by the axe swinging past them.
I suspect many current residents of the valley are unaware that "Sunday Drive" off of Highway 35 was named for Reverend Sunday, not the day of the week.
"Ma" Sunday could keep old Billy under control. She basically ran the farm near Odell, their house is still there, while he was out on the road preaching. Occasionally he would come home and on one particular occasion he was asked to do the Sunday service at Pine Grove Church. Being a "hell and brimstone" evangelist he tended to get long winded. This happened this Sunday and he kept preaching and preaching. Finally "Ma" had had enough and spoke out, saying "Pa the beans are burning." In other words she was telling him enough was enough.
charlott on 22nd August 2014 @ 7:04am
Well, I knew "Sunday Drive" was name for Rev. Billy Sunday's family, but, only because of Historic Hood River.
There have been early references here to the Reverend and I think Charlott is the one who first explained Sunday Drive.
Billy must have been a "southpaw".
l.e. on 22nd August 2014 @ 7:25am
He's a little short on the chopping technique. That piece of wood is going to split and then hit the handle. And he needs to clear out Ma and the dog. I always found splitting wood relaxingexercize but he doesn't look very relaxed or happy. Maybe it's Ma laughing at his technique. Do you know the address for their house?
nels on 22nd August 2014 @ 1:26pm
Yes, leave Hwy 35 onto Sunday Drive. Very shortly you will make a quick left hand turn in the road. It is a white house sitting right on the road on the left.
charlott on 23rd August 2014 @ 7:36am
Not sure about chopping wood being relaxing. but was satisfying to have 10 cord of chopped wood in the leanto on the garage going into winter. And with Mr. Sunday's chopping technique, he was fortunate to have someone higher than him looking after his welfare.
Buzz on 24th August 2014 @ 8:41am
Billy Sunday is name-checked in the Grateful Dead song, "Ramble On Rose."
Jim Mason on 25th August 2014 @ 9:20pm
He's also mentioned in the Nick Alexander parody of Billy Joel's "We didn't Start the Fire". Nick's version is "We want to Stand United" and is church history, both Catholic and Protestant, of the last 2000 years. I find this ironic because my grandparents were Methodist, not Catholic- and attended at Pine Grove Church since the 1950s, 30 to 40 years after Billy Sunday preached there.
Ted Seeber on 15th September 2014 @ 10:53am
I was born in Hood River and lived in the Pine Grove area. My parents friends were Pooch Swyers and his wife, I can't remember her name. They lived on the Billy Sunday ranch. We use to go visit them and there was a pond there. I caught my first fish out of that pond at about age 7 or 8. I remember it was a beautiful ranch.
Barbara Pounds on 6th January 2015 @ 6:38pm
Hood River Glacier, February 11, 1909 - Billy Sunday secures option on fruit ranch.
Jeffrey Bryant on 19th April 2015 @ 12:47pm