Reporting Rick Dayton
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Antique book collectors will spend hours upon hours looking through the stacks in used book stores, hoping to find a treasure.
A Bible was recently found in a California library that has very strong ties to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Joanne Murphy had no idea what she had in the stacks of donated books at the Sacramento, Calif. library – a Bible signed by members of the 1953 Pittsburgh Pirates.
“Nobody can look at every single book that comes through, so it’s a treasure hunt,” Murphy said.
The binding was tattered, but the history contained in the inscriptions is priceless.
“This particular Bible had pieces missing from the ends of the cover where it had been bent too many times and broke off and it had a cracked spine,” Murphy said.
A total of 31 Catholic members of baseball’s Bucs signed the Bible and dedicated it to General Manager Branch Rickey.
Rickey is the man credited with helping to break baseball’s color barrier when he signed Jackie Robinson eight years prior. The movie “42” will be released in April in which Harrison Ford plays Rickey.
“I saw the 1953 Pirates. First thought it might just be a church team and then I saw Joe Garagiola and I thought, ‘That sounds familiar. I think I know that name,’” Murphy said.
Garagiola became a famous broadcaster, but in 1953, he was a so-so catcher on for a lousy team that won 50 games and lost 104. He was traded to the Cubs during the season.
Elroy Face, Bob Friend and Hall-of-Famer Ralph Kiner also signed the good book.
“The players gave him this Bible and somewhere along the line it was given away or dumped,” Murphy said.
How the Bible ended up in the donation bin in Sacramento remains a mystery and Murphy knows it will be a while before she finds another book like this.
“Probably be 30 years before I find another one,” Murphy said.
Now, the Bible is on display in California, where even if can’t they can’t spell the name of our city, it just became part of Pittsburgh’s sports history.