Growing up in Dearborn in the late 1950s, comedian Thom Sharp became a rabid Detroit Tigers fan, partly because of one player who became a Sunday legend of sorts among his fellow baby boomers. Sharp, who now lives in Sherman Oaks, California, often made the trip to Briggs Stadium, the green baseball cathedral at Michigan and Trumbull.
“Watching Charlie Maxwell hitting home runs on a Sunday was a lot more fun than going to church and it didn’t require going to confession,” says Sharp, known for his comical appearances in TV ads in the 1980s and ’90s, including for Goodyear tires, Glad trash bags, Buick and more. “Everyone of course idolized Al Kaline, but my favorites were Charlie and Jimmy Small.”
Maxwell, nicknamed “Paw Paw” for his hometown in southwestern Michigan, earned the additional nickname of “Sunday Charlie” in the summer of 1959, after he belted 12 of his 31 homers on Sundays that season.
Once asked why he so often smashed homers on the sabbath, Maxwell quipped, “I don’t know but I sure wish I could find out so I could do it on the other days of the week.”
During his career, Maxwell hit 40 of his 148 homers — or 27% — on Sunday.
“There are unusual things that happen in baseball and I guess my Sunday homers are one of them,” says Maxwell, 92, from his home on Maple Lake in Paw Paw, where he lives with his wife Ann. Married 69 years, the couple has four children, 14 grandchildren, and three great grandchildren, all of whom live nearby.