Giants at the House of David

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Giants at the House of David

Postby Jon Scott » Sat Sep 27, 2008 9:50 pm

Recently I have been able to get back into filling out some miscellaneous game information for notable games that LeRoy "Cowboy" Edwards participated in.

I've been putting them here. ... eline.html

I don't know how useful this might be for people who are researching other teams and players but there are a number of interesting things which you run across. In that vein, as I've gone about highlighting Edwards' accomplishments, I have included some tidbits about the opponents, notable things happening in the games, boxscores etc. Maybe someone may find this additional information useful.

One example is the House of David which was a commune in Benton Harbor MI. They had a basketball (and more successful baseball) team which travelled around.

In late November 1937 Oshkosh played the House of David a few times. In one of the game previews, the Oshkosh Northwestern noted:

"While the House of David team will not have the 8 foot 1 inch center it boasted last year in "Tiny" Reichert, it will have a man at the pivot post more than a foot taller than the tallest of the All Stars, and that's going some.

He is Tiny Burnette, who towers up to the dizzy height of 7 feet 7 inches, just a half -foot short of Reichert's mark. And what's more, he is a basketball player, whereas Reichert was carried along with the team mostly as a drawing card, although he was able to drop the ball into the bucket when he could reach over the heads of his opponents.

Burnette was all-conference center while at Miami University at Oxford, O. He is also a star athlete in football and track. Although he weighs 300 pounds, he really can move across the floor and he is a "whiz" at basketball. This is the first year as a professional, having only finished college the past season." ... .html#1938

I thought the information about Reichert and Burnette was interesting. I don't know if 8' 1" is a record for a pro basketball player but it's got to be in contention.

Also, below is a photo of another of the House of David players, "Chops" Lyons.


Image"Chops" Lyons
Jon Scott
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Postby Jon Scott » Thu Oct 02, 2008 1:22 pm

Keith Ellis wrote:W/ all the tall trees they specialized in, resembling the modern-day (or at least post-Wilt) mentality, wouldn't it be nice to know what kind of year-to-year records the House of David put together?

My impression just from looking at the handful of game information with the All-Stars is that the House of David was a successful barnstorming team which was popular, and at times were competitive with the established teams but at least in the games against Oshkosh were not in the same class. In other words I would assume their record is quite impressive, but I don't know how indicative that is of how good they actually were (at least compared to other top teams of the era).


PS, Todd Gould in his book on Indiana basketball Pioneers of the Hardwood does mention the House of David in a game against the Whiting Ciesars in 1936-37, a game the Ciesars barely won 38-37. From Gould's book:

The Whiting Ciesars got an early test on their new semipro tour when the barnstorming House of David club paid a visit to the frozen regions of northern Indiana. The House of David was a religious colony in Benton Harbor, Michigan, that featured an expansive campus, an impressive three-story resort hotel, daily performances by brass bands, and miniature train rides. Every member of the House of David squad sported long hair, often to their waists, and many had thick, bushy beards. The club often ran trick plays and entertained crowds with dazzling passing and shooting exhibitions before the contest.

House of David featured Gilbert "Tiny" Reichert, the tallest man in basketball. Reichert stood eight feet tall, weighed 315 pounds, and wore a size-23 shoe. Many of the House of David's comic routines paired Reichert with his diminutive teammates, 5'8" Bill Steinecke, a two-sport sensation who played with the Philadelphia Athletics professional baseball team during the summer. "They were circus clowns," Joe Sotak laughed, "They were all good ball handlers. They had many trick shots and fancy plays. House of David, was always very opular with the fans. They were a real show, just like the Globetrotters became in later years."

Jon Scott
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Just how Tiny was he?

Postby rlee » Thu Oct 02, 2008 2:01 pm

This 1947 newsclip bills Tiny as being 7'6":

Play Cushites
Gil "Tiny" Reichert, .Tallest
Player In World Will
Appear At Arena
. Sunday
New Castle basketball fans will
see the tallest basketball player
in the world- at the Arena floor
Sunday in the Detroit Clowns and
Canton Cushites game. He is Gil
"Tiny" Reichert, 7 feet 6 inches
«nd weighing 280 pounds.
The first game Sunday at 3:30
o'clock will find the Bessemer Legion
and East Brook Boosters of
the City-County league ' tangling
ia a loop battle. This should be a
humdinger of a game as the Boosters
and Bessemer each; have a
league win to date, and; will be
battling'to. hold the lead^

CIowns Are Arousing

The Detroit team will -appear in
clown suits. and are said to be a
very -'classy outfit. In the Detroit
lineup will be .such well known
Michigan stars as: "Droopy" Miller,
Jimmy Joice,. Dick Kuschin,
Charley Coogh, Don Davis, Roland
Creek, all highly recognized floor
artists. 'This is. a .team, you will
'lemember for fast clever basketball
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World's Tallest Players

Postby rlee » Thu Oct 02, 2008 2:14 pm

The World's Tallest Players Site: ... anking.htm

lists Tiny at 7'7" along w/ Muresan and Bol
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Postby Jon Scott » Thu Oct 02, 2008 4:39 pm

FWIW, I did some quick searches for both Tiny Burnette and Tiny Reichert.

"Tiny" Burnette it appears played the 1937-38 season but got injured. I didn't see any other reference to him. FWIW, I didn't see any reference to him in the Miami (OH) University media guide. I checked with the school's SID and she didn't have a record of him so something's amiss there.

Here's some photos.


"Tiny" Reichert appears to have had a more durable career. Just scanning the newspaperarchive returns, after the House of David in 1936, there's not much record of him with the team except for an article in 1946 claiming he had been playing for 7 years. He resurfaced with the Detroit Clowns around 1947 (yes as rlee's article noted, they wore clown outfits) and also later joined Ringling Brothers Circus in the early 50's. He also managed the Vagabond Kings in the early 50's. He is listed anywhere from 7-6 to 7-7 to 7-11 to 8-1 to 8-4 (the 8-4 seemed to be when he was with the circus). Here's a photo of him.


Here's an article from May 1953 discussing his retirement from the 'show'.



PS, I didn't see what happened to him after that. In the 1960's he was the subject of trivia questions, but everything referred to him in the past tense.
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