The Game of Pepper Invented By a Religious Sect
The House of David was one of the more eye-catching barnstorming baseball squads of the early twentieth century. The religious commune, established in 1903, in Benton Harbor, Michigan, forbade, among other things, cutting hair and shaving, which gave the team a distinctive look, but they fielded an impressive starting nine that drew large crowds.
Some time around 1922, players invented what became the popular game of pepper, which the team performed with increasing razzle-dazzle before games and between innings. Throughout the 1930s, the sect sponsored several teams that regularly covered different regions of the country and they hauled high-powered lighting equipment with them to play night games. Among the big names that played for the House of David--and who were spared the hair requirements--were former Major Leaguers Grover Cleveland Alexander and Chief Bender, Negro League star Satchel Paige, minor-league sensation Jackie Mitchell, and 1932 Olympic heroine Babe Didrikson.