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From the

December 17, 2000
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Purchase the "House of David Baseball Team" here

Take me back to the ballgame

By WILLIAM F. AST III / H-P Staff Writer

BENTON TOWNSHIP - Local baseball and history enthusiasts have a new book to put on their Christmas wish lists - "The House of David Baseball Team" published by Arcadia Publishing.

The 128-page book, written by Joel Hawkins of Chicago and Terry Bertolino of Union, Mich., is a pictorial history and is part of Arcadia's "Images of America" series. The book includes information, statistics and stories about the barnstorming baseball teams, biographies of the players and numerous pictures.

Local enthusiasts know the City of David team played in the very first night baseball game in 1930 in Independence, Kan.

"The House of David Baseball Team" book actually includes two pictures of that game.

Members of Mary's City of David for several years have been involved in helping put the volume together, according to Ron Taylor, spokesman for the religious colony. Many of the statistics and photographs come from the colony's museum archives, and are on display during the summer months, he said.

House of David founder Benjamin Purnell started the teams. After Purnell died in 1927, the colony split and his widow, Mary, formed Mary's City of David in 1930. The City of David fielded its own baseball teams.

Colony members do not cut their hair because of religious reasons, and the touring teams became famous for their long hair, high level of play and such popular stunts as the "pepper game."

Jesse "Doc" Tally, John Tucker and George Anderson would throw the ball between them at an ever faster rate, using sleight-of-hand tricks to make the ball disappear and keep the crowd guessing as to where the ball actually was.

The teams were among the best semi-pro teams around and played several games against professional teams. The House of David team actually scored victories against the St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Athletics. House of David pitcher Percy Walker once struck out Babe Ruth in a game with the New York Yankees.

The teams often toured with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues. Monarchs' star pitcher Satchel Paige became good friends with several House of David players, especially Tucker.

The colony teams last played in 1955.

The book includes a list of players, though Bertolino said it isn't complete.

"We know we've omitted people," Bertolino said. "That was not intentional. We hope people who have been omitted will contact us."

People may contact the authors at: www.peppergame.com, Bertolino said.

Bertolino said he and Hawkins are working on a definitive history of the teams.

Taylor said copies of the book are for sale at Global Greening in Benton Harbor, and Edgewater Gifts and the Fort Miami Heritage Society in St. Joseph.

Taylor said the book may also be ordered from the City of David office at a cost of $15.95 plus $2.50 for tax and shipping. Taylor said he was sold out but more copies have been ordered.

Profits from sale of the book as well as items in the colony gift shop go into upkeep and restoration projects, he said. The colony can be contacted at P.O. Box 187, 1158 E. Britain Ave., Benton Harbor, Mich. 49022. Taylor can be reached at 925-1601 or visit the colony's web site at: www.maryscityofdavid.org.

Bertolino said those who want autographed or dedicated copies of the book may contact the web site at: www.peppergame.com. The cost of books purchased at that site is $18.99.

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