The director [Richard Brooks, preparing to make his acclaimed movie Elmer Gantry, about an errant Protestant evangelist] had ammassed a collection of articles on the two key figures, Billy Sunday and Aimee Semple McPherson, of the great revivalist wave that swept across America in the teens and 1920s. An ex-basebal player who used his superbly proportioned and coordinated body to sensational effect during his world-famous revvial meetings, Sunday vaulted onto the platform "as beautiful," wrote journalist John Reed, "as a Greek runner," crying, "O-o-o-o-oh, come to Jesus!"From: Ervin Shaw, "Celebrity Thief Goes to his Knees" webpage, posted 2001; in "Christian Testimonies" section of "The Truth . . . What Is It?" website (http://poptop.hypermart.net/testbs.html; viewed 7 November 2005):
Born in 1862, he ended up in an orphanage at age 12. Returning to work on a grandfather's farm in Iowa, he took to baseball; and his amazing speed caught the eye of a pro manager. He played pro ball for 8 years, reaching celebrity status when he stole 95 bases in one season. At age 24, Jesus stole his heart at Pacific Garden Mission, Chicago. Over the next 42 years, Billy Sunday would become the great evangelist predecessor to Billy Graham, spreading the gospel to over 100,000,000 people! Of these, it is said that between 500,000 and 1,000,000 "hit the sawdust trail", coming down front, coming forward at the invitation call to accept Jesus as their savior.