An excerpt from Out of Left Field: Jews and Black Baseball (Oxford University Press, 2011) by Rebecca Alpert, from Chapter Four, The Conflict over Baseball Comedy.
A few independent white baseball teams also clowned and relied on novelty to gain bookings. The best known of these teams was the House of David. The team originated in 1916 within the Israelite House of David messianic Christian group based in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Like the only black Jewish team, the Belleville Grays, the House of David team began as a recreational activity for the community. They played well, and began to send out a touring team in 1919. The colony split in the 1930s, and both groups continued to promote traveling baseball teams, one of which continued through the 1950s. Many members of the community played, but they also welcomed outsiders, including major league baseball stars like Grover Cleveland Alexander and the female star Babe Didrikson, who was a well-known athlete in golf, basketball, and track and field. There were also many imitation House of David teams, including the Havana Cuban House of David organized by Jewish entrepreneur Syd Pollock. The original House of David once tried to take the imposters to court to protect their name, but there were simply too many imitators. Continue Reading →