A look back: Billy Graham brings ministry to Tiger Stadium
BATON ROUGE- In October 1970, Billy Graham and his ministry brought one of his famed crusades to Baton Rouge, and according to Donald Tabb, who was part of Graham's team, the event was something that people will never forget.
“Tiger Stadium was a very interesting crusade,” said Tabb. “We had it for five days, four nights and one afternoon, Sunday afternoon. We averaged 40,000 people per meeting.”
Tabb said more than 200,000 people came to see Billy Graham over the course of those days, but Graham’s visit to the Capital City can only be attributed to one local businessman: Bob Cole.
“Bob was a very charismatic guy and he kept hounding Billy to come to Baton Rouge. So he got a petition of 10,000 names,” said Tabb. “He got 10,000 people to sign it. He took over to Nashville to Billy, and Billy said ‘alright I'll come’,” he continued.
With the voices of Ethel Waters and George Beverly Shay leading the musical ministry, according to Tabb, it was not as easy as showing up to a venue to preach a sermon because it required more production and coordination.
“It took about a year in process to finalize. I think I came the first time in March of ‘70, and the crusade was in October,” he said.
Nearly 50 years since the great Tiger Stadium crusade, Tabb said he still holds Graham's memory in high esteem.
“When you see him on TV and you see those sound bites, he's very iconic, but Billy Graham is just who he was,” said Tabb. “He was a very humble man. He'd been gifted by God to be a persuasive orator.”