A standing room only crowd attends the first-ever major league game played on a Sunday (May 4, 1919) in Brooklyn.
The Ebbets Field contest, in which the Dodgers beat the Braves, 6-2, was made possible when the New York Legislature passed the Sunday Baseball Bill into law.
In 1902, Sunday baseball games were legalized in Chicago, St. Louis, and Cincinnati.
In 1907, New York City Democrats introduced two bills in Albany, New York that attempted to legalize Sunday baseball. State Assemblyman Al Smith spoke out against the ban of Sunday Baseball arguing that it was better for young men to be playing baseball than to “be driven to places where they play Waltz Me Around Again, Willie.” However, both bills were unsuccessful.
In 1911, Philadelphia Athletics manager Connie Mack expressed a desire for the Athletics to play on Sunday. The main driving force behind his interest in playing on Sunday was to earn money. The Athletics were not a wealthy baseball club, and Athletics vice-president John Shibe estimated that the team would make $20,000 for each Sunday game that they played in Philadelphia. Mack thought that, for the team, it was financially necessary to play on Sundays, explaining that “we [the Athletics] cannot meet our payrolls playing on seventy-seven weekdays at home”. Many Pennsylvania politicians and religious groups opposed Shibe and Mack’s effort for Sunday baseball, claiming that playing on that day was a “breach of peace” and that the games would be “a disturbance to persons in that neighborhood desirous of preserving the peace and quiet of Sunday so that they may in such peace and quiet pursue their religious worship and meditation”. Unfortunately for the Athletics, Philadelphia’s other baseball team, the Phillies, took no public position on the subject, undermining the Athletics’ case.
In 1917, the New York Giants and Cincinnati Reds played the first Sunday game ever at the Polo Grounds, New York’s home field. However, after the game both managers, John McGraw and Christy Mathewson, were arrested for violating the blue laws. Judge Francis Xavier McQuade found them not guilty.
The following year, Sunday baseball was legalized in Cleveland, Washington, D.C., and Detroit. One year after that, New York legalized baseball games on Sunday, and baseball teams that played in New York (the New York Giants, the New York Yankees, and the Brooklyn Dodgers) were allowed to have home games on Sunday.