Sporting events on Sunday in Jamestown were challenged in 1903 although it didn’t seem to come to anything.
Sporting events where admission was charged were against the blue laws of the era. A pickup game, for example, with no admission charge was not a violation of the law.
In early July of 1903, a Jamestown team played a Sunday game and charged admission. One of the folks who paid the price at the gate was a local minister identified as Rev. Ogden. The newspapers didn’t note what church he served.
“After watching the game,” the newspaper article said, “I returned uptown convinced that Sunday ball games at the ballpark are not chief among the wrong doings of Jamestown residents on the Sabbath.”
The article originated with the Jamestown Daily Capital and was widely reprinted in newspapers around the state.
“Choosing between what I saw uptown and at the game, I would choose the ball ground as being the better place to spend the day,” the Capital continued.
The Capital also reported that Ogden was there in an effort to stop the game. He reportedly had a little conference with the Jamestown team manager after the first inning and advised him to stop the game or he would swear out a complaint alleging a violation of the blue laws of the state.
Despite the warning, the game went on.
Ogden watched the rest of the game. I suppose he was gathering evidence but did admit to the Capital’s reporter he “became somewhat enthused with the excitement of the game.”
The good reverend sent a letter to all the newspapers that ran the article. He said he only attended the game to gather evidence but said the ballplayers who were not Christians were less to blame than the residents who “make profession of the Christian religion and who had just come from church (to watch the game).”
Follow up articles indicate that a number of the players from the Jamestown squad were arrested after the game although the cases were dropped.
North Dakota voters narrowly passed an initiated measure in 1920 specifically allowing baseball games to be played before paying spectators on Sunday.
Reading the old newspapers, it would seem there were a lot of baseball games played without paying spectators or in violation of the law prior to 1920.
And there were probably worse things going on in Jamestown than those games.