I could have sworn that I’d mentioned the House of David’s barnstorming baseball cultists previously. Evidently not.
Ryan Ferguson’s piece is a good introduction to the hirsute, pepper-playing celibates of yore, although I must concede to a measure of annoyance that the author is seemingly unaware of the Oakland A’s of the early 1970s. Long before Boston’s “idiots,” the Swinging A’s pioneered bearded and mustachioed modernity in baseball.
Ironically, I wrote about it only recently.
The A’s became my team, and Reggie Jackson my favorite player. Unbeknownst to me, the A’s also were about to become quite good, winning five divisional titles in a row from 1971-1975, and three consecutive World Series crowns in 1972, 1973 and 1974. The players grew outlandish mustaches and beards during this period and wore white shoes, all of which outraged the older generation, endearing the team to me even more strongly.
Oddly, I cannot recall my father expressing an opinion either way about the House Of David. At the same time, he wasn’t much of a churchgoer.
The religious sect that became baseball’s answer to the Harlem Globetrotters, by Ryan Ferguson (The Guardian)
The House of David was an Adventist cult that banned alcohol, sex and shaving. But it also loved baseball – and its teams toured the country to enraptured crowds.
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.