A moment in history: June 14, 1934

A moment in history: June 14, 1934

· The Pulse

On this day in 1934, the Edmonton Senior Amateur Baseball League was set to host the famous House of David team.

House of David, part of a Michigan religious commune of the same name, was a baseball sensation at the time, partly because of the lifestyle that the commune members kept, which prohibited meat, alcohol, sex, tobacco, and shaving. They also drew crowds due to their impressive skill as well as gimmicks such as hiding the ball in their beards and even playing on the backs of donkeys at times.

The House of David barnstormed across North America for decades, and Edmonton was a somewhat frequent stop. The hirsute team had been through in 1929, before their 1934 game against Webb King's Royals. Then in 1948, at a time when the game was highly segregated, the House of David played in Edmonton against the Kansas City Monarchs, one of the most successful franchises in the Negro Leagues. The game at Renfrew Park, now the site of RE/MAX Field, drew up to 4,000 spectators.

While Edmonton might now be known as a hub of hockey fandom, the city has been home to several baseball leagues and professional teams. The Edmonton Legislatures, the city's first team, began playing in fields in the Rossdale Flats around 1884. A little over two decades later, they would become a professional team — the Edmonton Grays — and play in the newly opened Diamond Park in Rossdale.

The sport would continue to be a popular pastime in Edmonton, although professional baseball would be on hold for most of the 1910s due to the First World War. When pro baseball came back, it did so in spectacular fashion — during the 1920 home opener of Edmonton's new team (which shared the same nickname as the city's recently renamed CFL team), flying ace Wilfred "Wop" May swooped overhead and dropped a ceremonial ball on the field.

The team would play in the Western Canadian League for three years before shutting down. That would mark the end of professional baseball in Edmonton until 1950. However, amateur leagues continued to entertain eager audiences. In 1933, the Senior Edmonton Amateur League took over the lease at Renfrew Park.

During the Second World War, many of the young men who might have played baseball were instead shipped off to the battlefields of Europe. The game's popularity ebbed and flowed for the rest of the 20th century, perhaps peaking with the arrival of the Edmonton Trappers, a Triple-A team that played here from 1981 to 2004.

The last couple of decades have seen more changes to the baseball landscape, with new teams rising and falling. Last week saw crowds return to RE/MAX Field for the opener of the Edmonton Riverhawks' second season in the West Coast League. Meanwhile, the Edmonton Prospects will skip this year's season due to construction delays at their new Spruce Grove ballpark.

This is based on a clipping found on Vintage Edmonton, a daily look at Edmonton's history from armchair archivist @revRecluse — follow @VintageEdmonton for daily ephemera via Twitter.