Frankovich: Branch Rickey’s Catholic bible

From Nicholas Frankovich at National Review Online on May 11, 2013, with mention of SABR member Lee Lowenfish:

They intended it as a gift, but these 60 years later it’s a time capsule. More than half the players on the roster of the Pittsburgh Pirates got together in the spring of 1953 and gave a Catholic Bible to their boss, general manager Branch Rickey, now known to history as the man who in the 1940s signed Jackie Robinson to a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers and integrated major-league baseball. Rickey was a devout Methodist, and so the gift from his players is curious — a token, apparently, of the sectarian differences between themselves and him. What were they thinking?

To judge from the faux-leather cover and the title page, the Bible is neither rare nor noteworthy: The Holy Trinity Edition (a modified Douay-Challoner-Rheims version), edited by the Reverend John P. O’Connell (1951), had a good run in the United States in the middle of the last century. The copy in question lay hidden in a donation bin at the Sacramento Public Library when, in January of this year, a book repairer noticed the dedication to Rickey, did some quick research, and realized she was holding an item of historical significance.

“Presented to Branch Rickey,” the dedication page reads. “May this good Book be a continued inspiration to one who has ever cherished the word of God. With sincere humility we respectfully dedicate this Holy Catholic Bible.” It’s dated May 7, 1953.

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Originally published: May 14, 2013. Last Updated: May 14, 2013.