By Wayne Allen
November 19, 2013
PDT Staff Writer
After months of preparing and lobbying for the Bible that once belonged to Scioto County native Branch Rickey, it has been received by Portsmouth Murals Inc., and will soon be on display at the Scioto County Welcome Center at 342 Second Street.
“Thanks to a discovery in a salvage area by the Friends of the Sacramento Public Library the Bible was re-conditioned and put on display for Martin Luther King’s Day at the Sacramento Library during February of this year (2012). This became a nationwide news story,” said Bob Morton, President of Portsmouth Murals Inc. “Randy Nickles, a member of the Portsmouth Murals Baseball Committee brought this to my attention and this began a quest lasting several months to obtain the Bible for the Portsmouth area.”
Along the quest to get the Bible, Portsmouth Murals Inc. received several endorsements from around the community. Endorsements came from the Portsmouth Public Library and Lee Lowenfish, author of the award-winning book Branch Rickey: Baseball’s Ferocious Gentleman. State Representative Terry A. Johnson, the Board of Scioto County Commissioners, Branch B. Rickey, president of the Pacific Coast Baseball League and Congressman Brad R. Wenstrup also endorsed the move.
According to released information by Portsmouth Murals Inc., “This Bible was presented to Branch Rickey in May 1953 by 31 members of the Pittsburgh Pirates Baseball team and contains their signatures. Several prominent names were shown such as Baseball Hall of Fame member Ralph Kiner, Baseball game of the week television announcer Joe Garagiola and longtime players Bob Friend, Murray Dickson, and El Roy Face. The manager whose signature appears first was Fred Haney, a big league manager for several years.”
In 1942, Rickey moved to Brooklyn as president of the Dodgers and signed African-American baseball player Jackie Robinson to play for the Dodgers in 1947.
That moment is the inspiration behind a movie “42” by Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures.
Robinson was the 1947 Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year, 1948 National League Most Valuable Player, six-time All-Star, and played for the Dodgers until 1956. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.
Rickey died in 1965 and is buried in Rushtown Cemetery in Scioto County.
In October of this year, Bob Gorham, President of the Friends of the Sacramento Public Library made a gift of the Bible to Portsmouth Murals, Inc.
The only stipulation required of Portsmouth Murals Inc. was that the Bible may not be sold and if Portsmouth Murals, Inc. would be dissolved it would go to another type of nonprofit fund, foundation or corporation.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.