When Baseball Invaded General Priesthood Meeting in the Tabernacle
By Lynn Arave When was General Priesthood Meeting not General Priesthood Meeting?
On the evening of Saturday, Oct. 4, 1930, in the middle of a General Priesthood meeting talk by LDS Church President Heber J. Grant, the wrong flip of a KSL Radio studio switch caused havoc.
The network radio line feed of the World Series instantly replaced President Grant over the Tabernacle sound system, going to some 6,000 priesthood holders.
The startling baseball broadcast continued for eight minutes while Sylvester Q. Cannon, Presiding Bishop of the Church, raced from the Tabernacle to KSL to get the problem fixed.
In those days, KSL was located atop the Deseret News Building in the former Union Pacific Building on the southwest corner of Main Street and South Temple.
KSL Radio head engineer John Dehnel confirmed that the incident is not folklore - it did take place. Records are spotty on the event though. Some past historical articles have only briefly mentioned the event and have erroneously stated it happened in the 1920s during General Conference.
There's simply a lack of information on the incident because KSL Radio was embarrassed by it. For some reason neither the Deseret News nor the Salt Lake Tribune reported on the mishap afterward either.
Dehnel has some of the only information on the event.
He believes KSL was using some special speakers on Main Street to broadcast the World Series to the public when somehow that alternate feed accidentally got switched into the tabernacle, too.
It had to have happened during General Priesthood session, because Dehnel said that's the only time when KSL would have been airing something different than General Conference.
The first World Series action, between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Philadelphia Athletics, to air instead of priesthood meeting involved a close steal of second base.
(By the way, Philadelphia ended up winning the 1930 World Series, 4 games to 2.)
Dehnel said KSL's limited records also indicate that church leaders were quite amused by the accident.
Finding someone who actually remembers the conference-baseball mix-up is difficult since someone would have to be in their late 80s or older to have any chance of remembering the occurrence.
The oldest living General Authority I could find at the time, Elder David B. Haight, 92 in 1998, of the Quorum of the Twelve was living in Berkley, Calif., during 1930 and said he didn't personally hear General Priesthood meeting. Still, he had heard about the incident and acknowledged it really happened. However, he stressed it was a mistake.
Ironically, President Grant's opening General Conference address on Friday, Oct. 3, 1930, had lauded the advent of modern technology. He made reference to how amazing it was that several church members in New Zealand had written him recently about hearing KSL loud and clear. Also, President Grant had made the first-ever broadcast on AM-1160 eight years earlier - on May 6, 1922.
The first LDS Conference radio broadcast had taken place just six years earlier in October of 1924, just two years after KSL (named "KZN" for its first 18 months) originated.
-Further irony is how many General Priesthood attenders today would still be checking their mobile devices for updates -- during the meeting -- if a World Series Game conflicts with that meeting now? ....
(-Adpated from the Deseret News, a Sept. 26, 1998 article and research by Lynn Arave.)
-NOTE: The author, Lynn Arave, is available to speak to groups, clubs, classes or other organizations about Utah history at no charge. He can be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org