Dallas' Entire Professional Baseball Club Once Got Arrested For Playing a Ballgame on Sunday
There are still things you can't do on a Texas in Sunday. Buy liquor, for example. Baseball, however, is perfectly fine.
That wasn't always the case. On this day in 1905, the entire Dallas and Fort Worth professional ball teams were arrested for playing a couple of games at what was then Fair Park. Another man was taken into custody for selling lemonade.
The Dallas Police Department Museum, which brings us up this tidbit of historical trivia, posts the article that ran in The Dallas Morning News the next day.
Every member of the Dallas and Fort Worth baseball clubs is under bond to appear in the Corporation Court this morning to answer to a charge of having violated the Sunday law by working on Sunday, the particular case cited being the two baseball games played yesterday afternoon. Charges were also made against J. W. Gardner for violation of the Sunday law for keeping a public amusement running on Sunday and for causing his employees to work on Sunday. The same bond for the players covers that for Mr. Gardner.
The warrants were issued by judge Curtis P. Smith and were served just before the first game began. A bond was already made out and bore the names of C.A. Keating and C.A. Mangold as sureties. There are four cases against Mr. Gardner, two of each kind, or one for each game.
Both teams and the lemonade seller dutifully showed up at their court hearing the next day, which focused less on the moral and legal implications of playing baseball on a Sunday than the proper chain of command within the local law enforcement community. The Dallas Police Department's Chief Knight was particularly troubled by what he saw as a usurpation of his rightful authority.
"We didn't order their arrest. They were not brought to the station... Nobody showed us any affidavit or warrant," he testified, according to the next day's report in the Morning News. "We do not docket a case unless it is telephoned in by one of our regularly appointed city policeman. That special night watchman had no jurisdiction at all at the Fair Grounds. I don't understand why it was that the papers were turned over to him instead of to us. It looks like they might have been turned over to the Chief of Police. Whenever there are warrants or papers to serve, they ought to be handed to us instead of to some private watchman."
Gardner, the team's owner, was the one who brought the hearing back to the topic of Sunday baseball, arguing that there was no state law prohibiting it. An attorney with the city conceded the point, deciding that it wasn't work, which would have been banned, but "simply an athletic exhibition which they had a right to give."
Gardner and his players walked on the charges. Cycle Park Theater owner Charles R. McAdams, who had a hearing the same day, wasn't so lucky. He was convicted and fined $20 for "operating a theatrical entertainment on Sunday night."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Observer's biggest stories.