The House of David will forever hold a legendary spot in Baseball history. I remember first learning about them during Ken Burns Baseball documentary, and have been fascinated ever since. For that reason, I have always enjoyed gathering and collecting memorabilia related to them. Featured here are some of the Baseball related stuff I have. Click on any pic to embiggen. Above is a mini pennant, and below are numerous Baseball related postcards. I am not exactly sure as to the age of these postcards.
The House of David religious community was started in 1903 in Benton Harbor, Michigan, and by 1913 they started playing Baseball. Within a few years they formed a team and started barnstorming throughout the country to earn money for their religious order. Easily recognizable by their long bears and hair (they also espoused vegetarianism and celibacy), they often received the largest crowds in the country and performed feats on the diamond that wowed the crowd. It it said they invented the "pepper game", and they are noted for often traveling to play against some of the best Negro League teams in existence.
From the book, House of David Baseball Team" found at Baseball Library:
The feature for which the House of David is perhaps best remembered, however, is the talented teams of bearded barnstorming baseball players that traveled to nearly every state in the Union, Mexico, and most of the Canadian Provinces. Early in the team's history, when their travels took them primarily to the east, their competition would often consist of the formidable Negro League teams: the Pittsburgh Crawfords, the Bacharach Giants, the Newark Eagles, and the Homestead Grays. Later in the 1930s, both the House of David and the City of David would barnstorm across the country with the Kansas City Monarchs. In 1939, the City of David hooked up with Satchel Paige's All Stars for over two months, playing 60 games between them.
Not all teammates were members of their religious order. They also hired ballplayers to play for them. Some of the more famous hired hands included Grover Cleveland Alexander, Chief Bender, Babe Didrickson, and Satchel Paige.
The House of David also did much to help integrate the country. When they barnstormed they would often play doubleheaders with a Negro League team (who traveled with them) as the opening bill. Then, that evening they would dine at a local restaurant and sleep in a local hotel with the Negro League players right bedside them. It was their belief that the color of someone's skin was meaningless, and they would not allow those who traveled with them to be treated any differently then themselves.
BTW, the House of David also had a basketball team that traveled with the Harlem Globetrotters in the 1930's. Legend states that the Globetrotters started using their theme song "Sweet Georgia Brown" as a way to compete with the House of David theme song "House of David Blues". On the musical front, the House of David were known to be great musicians, and they had a famous jazz band that started up in 1919. In fact, their music was more famous than their athletic endeavors. Unfortunately, no recordings are known to exist.
Check out this great video I found on youtube about the House of David; including an interview with the last living House of David ballplayer. Unfortunately, Lloyd Dalager died this month at the age of 99. Check out this great biography about his playing days at the South Bend Tribune.
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