Ferguson: The religious sect that became baseball’s answer to the Harlem Globetrotters

From Ryan Ferguson at The Guardian on September 21, 2016, with mention of SABR member Jacob Pomrenke:

In recent years, extravagant facial hair has become increasingly popular in Major League Baseball. The fad likely began with the 2004 Red Sox, as Johnny Damon and other self-proclaimed idiots wore flowing manes in contrast to the clean-shaven Yankees, who they eventually toppled to win the pennant.

Since then, many players have gained attention for creative beards, with former Giants closer Brian Wilson perhaps the most famous. Yet while these modern exponents are perhaps more recognizable, the art of fine baseball beards can be traced back over a century, to the House of David, a virtuoso team of religious believers that toured the country for almost five decades. Theirs is a compelling tale.

The team represented a religious society co-founded by Benjamin and Mary Purnell in Benton Harbor, Michigan. The Israelite House of David, established by the married couple in March 1903, was an Adventist cult that sought to reunite the 12 tribes of Israel in anticipation of Jesus returning to Earth in the new millennium. Benjamin Purnell considered himself the seventh messenger from the Book of Revelation, and he created the commune as a hub for his work in this field.

Read the full article here: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/sep/21/house-of-david-baseball-religious-sect

Originally published: September 21, 2016. Last Updated: September 21, 2016.