“First Day Crowds of 40,000 Gather to Hear Billy Sunday; 15,000 Others Unable to Get Into Tabernacle”
. . . These morning thousands were good church people, most of them. Their home churches, such large churches as the Park Street Church and Tremont Temple, and churches in other sections of Boston proper, had closed their morning services so that their congregations might fill Sunday’s church.
The men and women had risen far earlier than their Sunday custom. At 8 o’clock Albert Peterson, custodian of the tabernacle, found squatters outside some of the 40-odd entrances. A little before 9 the 600 ushers and doorkeepers had reported and the doors were thrown open. Reporters coming at 9:15 saw only scattered empty benches.
Some 8000 came with little paste-board admission tickets distributed by pastors of churches which had closed yesterday. The building filled up before 10:30 and full of people, floored with faces, looked much more expansive from the platform than when it is empty.
For 45 minutes crowds were pushing in trying to find one seat more here, another there. Family parties were separated. The hour before Sunday appeared was passed more easily than 15 minutes before a big football game.
. . .
Chairman Allan C. Emery was on the platform and he formally presented Mr Sunday to his first Boston congregation as “One, yes, I may say, the most widely known and the most greatly loved American citizen.”
Handkerchiefs were waved through the air as the greeting from some. All applauded. Sunday was off:
“If I hadn’t played ball in Boston years ago I might have supposed you’d be so hedge in with conservatism that you’d look cross-eyed at any one who lives the other side of the Connecticut Valley. But folks are folks everywhere.”
He thanked them for the welcome, thanked the newspapers. He added to the introduction given him: “If Mr Emery had remembered it he might have added ‘the most hated citizen in America.’” . . .
“First Day Crowds of 40,000 Gather to Hear Billy Sunday; 15,000 Others Unable to Get Into Tabernacle,” by Laurence Winship. Boston Daily Globe, November 13, 1916.