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The mystery of the bible autographed by the 1953 Pirates

Jan 26, 2013, 8:00 PM EST

1 RICKEY ROBINSON

This is interesting:

Joanne Murphy knew something was unusual when she opened up an old Bible last week. The holy book turned up among the tens of thousands of materials donated to the Friends of the Sacramento Public Library each year.

Inside the Bible, 31 different signatures were emblazoned on the first page along with “Pirates 1953” written across the top in blue ink.

The Bible was general manager Branch Rickey’s. And no one — not even Rickey’s family members or the living 1953 Pirates who signed it — remembers it or knows where it came from. Of course, given that the 1953 Pirates went 50-104 it’s understandable if everyone wanted to forget it.

Fun story.

  1. mybrunoblog - Jan 26, 2013 at 9:12 PM

    On its face it seems odd but perhaps Rickey was having it signed but members of his club to show their faith or maybe even something like an intended gift for a member of the clergy. The more I think about it yeah it is odd, but how the donor who gave it to the Sacremento Library ended up with it might be even more odd than the very existence of the book itself.

    • historiophiliac - Jan 26, 2013 at 9:34 PM

      “As for Godfrey, Andy secured him a passage to California, where he led a disreputable life. There is a rumor that he was killed in a drunken brawl at Sacramento not long since, but I have not been able to learn whether this is true or not. His loss of fortune had something to do with his going to the bad, but I am afraid, with his character and tendencies, that neither in prosperity nor in adversity would he have built up a good character, or led an honorable career.” — Horatio Alger, Jr. “Only an Irish Boy”

  2. florida76 - Jan 26, 2013 at 9:49 PM

    The ’53 Pirates were poor, but did have at least three noteworthy players. Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner, trailblazing relief pitcher Elroy Face, and pitcher Bob Friend. Well before free agency, the Bucs went from the depths of 1953 to World Champions seven years later.

  3. gershonpsu - Jan 26, 2013 at 11:26 PM

    I remember those 1953 Pirates well. I was a ten-year-old in walking distance of Forbes Field and for $1 I could see a game on Saturday and often a double-header on Sunday. No, they weren’t very good but they were the home team in the white uniforms and every once in awhile Ralph Kiner would hit a homerun over the scoreboard in left field and we had something to cheer about. Seven years later we beat the Yankees in the 1960 World Series.

  4. roanboon - Jan 27, 2013 at 3:42 AM

    Four wonderful comments. They remind me of one of the reasons I love baseball– the spirit of its stories and memories bridges our adulthood and our youth.

  5. Old Gator - Jan 27, 2013 at 10:17 AM

    Ralph Kiner dated Marilyn Monroe. It boggles the mind.

    • jeffbbf - Jan 27, 2013 at 12:57 PM

      no doubt…what was Ralph thinking?

    • badintent - Jan 29, 2013 at 3:26 AM

      Bet he went long on her. He had a great power stroke.Loved Kiner when he did Radio for Mets. Never talked about his HR records. The only way I even knew about them was when his co-workers would mention them and he would be genuinely embarrassed when they brought it up.
      Good thing he wasn’t in the room when Monroe got shot dead by the “Divison ” cover up squad.
      Joe Kennedy played hardball, didn’t like his sons to be embarrassed.

  6. stew48 - Jan 27, 2013 at 6:51 PM

    Hadn’t Greenberg Gardens been built by 1953? That Kiner home may have just gone into “the garden”, but not matter. Face had a year with, I think, 18 consecutive victories, as a reliever. Won’t bet a nickel it was 1953, but he sure had an unbelievable year.

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