WBUR News WBUR News

Support the news

Sunday Baseball Games Were Illegal In Massachusetts Until 1929

A play at home during a Red Sox-Yankees game at Fenway Park on July 3, 1932 -- the first-ever Sunday game at Fenway. (Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection)
A play at home during a Red Sox-Yankees game at Fenway Park on July 3, 1932 -- the first-ever Sunday game at Fenway. (Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection)
This article is more than 2 years old.

Massachusetts, as you may know, has some unique laws when it comes to Sundays.

Over the years, state lawmakers have gradually eased or removed many of these so-called "blue laws," and several outdated ones seem patently ridiculous now.

But with the Fenway fellas two wins away from another World Series title, one past restriction, flagged by the Boston City Archives, caught our eye: Sunday baseball games were illegal in the state until 1929.

As the city archives detailed in a post Wednesday:

Though the “Sunday Laws” had support from many religious leaders and institutions, growing numbers of Bostonians opposed them. Many working class Bostonians worked Monday-Saturday. The only day that they could attend a baseball game was on Sunday. In 1928, after years of rising opposition to the Sunday laws, Massachusetts voters voted to allow sporting events on Sundays.

According to the city archives, the first Sunday Red Sox game was an exhibition, with the crosstown Boston Braves, on April 14, 1929. Some 5,000 people attended.

That game was down Commonwealth Avenue from Fenway, though. Here's why: "Fenway Park's proximity to a house of worship forced the team to play its Sunday home games at Braves Field instead."

It was more than three years later before the first Sunday game was played at Fenway.

Massachusetts was a relative laggard when it came to repealing this particular blue law. Sunday baseball was allowed in New York, for instance, in 1919. But according to the Library of Congress, Pennsylvania was the "final holdout," voting in 1933 to leave the decision on Sunday games up to local governments.

Though it would be in Los Angeles, this year's Sox team may have another Sunday game, if the Dodgers extend the Series into Game 5.

That game is set to start at 8:15 p.m. EST, so there's a very good chance it would end on Monday, our time.

Related:

Benjamin Swasey Twitter Digital Manager
Ben is WBUR's digital news manager.

More…

Support the news