Religion

Before the pulpit, Billy Graham’s passion was baseball. His hometown team remembers.

Billy Graham’s grandson Will Graham, also an evangelist, watches a video presentation about his 98-year-old grandfather before speaking as part of Faith and Family Night at Sunday’s Charlotte Knights game. Billy Graham’s first career aspiration was to be a Major League Baseball player.
Billy Graham’s grandson Will Graham, also an evangelist, watches a video presentation about his 98-year-old grandfather before speaking as part of Faith and Family Night at Sunday’s Charlotte Knights game. Billy Graham’s first career aspiration was to be a Major League Baseball player. dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte-born evangelist Billy Graham and his love of baseball was honored Sunday during the Charlotte Knights’ “Faith and Family Night” in uptown’s BB&T Ballpark.

Graham himself was not be there – he’s 98 and rarely leaves his mountaintop home in Montreat – but his grandson, Will Graham, spoke up on the elder Graham’s behalf.

billy graham mug
Evangelist Billy Graham in 2010. Nell Redmond AP

Long before he felt called to be a preacher, Billy Graham wanted to grow up to be a Major League Baseball player.

“Since there were few things in life that I loved more than baseball, as a young man I dedicated myself to the sport and hoped that my passion for the game would lead me straight to the major leagues,” Graham wrote in “Nearing Home,” one of his books. “But baseball was not God’s plan for me. Nevertheless, He taught me how to integrate these important components into service for Him.”

When Graham was a freshman in high school, he got to shake hands with his hero, baseball legend Babe Ruth, who had come to Charlotte to play in an exhibition game.

On “Billy Graham Day” – a Sunday, of course – the minor-league Charlotte Knights played a game against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

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