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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Baseball mystery—How did bible with players’ signatures end up in library bin?

Well…Deacon Phillippe had already gone to that glorious rural retreat in the sky.

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.

Murphy, an antiquarian book repairer, didn’t know what all this meant until she did some research online.

“The Bible had been sitting in my shop for months waiting to get repaired,” said Murphy, 65. “No one wanted it.”

As it turns out, she had a piece of baseball history. The Catholic Bible was signed by 30 players and manager Fred Haney of the 1953 Pittsburgh Pirates and given to their general manager Branch Rickey, best known for breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson.

But the question remains: how did Rickey’s Bible end up in a donation bin for a Sacramento library group?

Repoz Posted: January 26, 2013 at 10:05 AM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, pirates

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   1. BDC Posted: January 26, 2013 at 12:21 PM (#4355438)
TFA suggests that the bible was signed by Ralph Kiner, so it was given to Rickey sometime before early June, when Rickey traded Kiner to the Cubs. Joe Garagiola, who also signed it, went with Kiner in the trade, as did Catfish Metkovich and Howie Pollet, whose would be fun autographs to have. It was a bad team but had some interesting players, including Dick Hall, an infielder who later became a star relief pitcher. The only member of the team I ever saw play in person was Murry Dickson – in an Old-Timers Game.
   2. bobm Posted: January 26, 2013 at 02:12 PM (#4355520)
Murphy, an antiquarian book repairer, didn’t know what all this meant until she did some research online.


From http://www.justanswer.com/antiques/7hby9-bible-presented-branch-rickey-may-1953.html

Customer Question

Ask your own question now >
I have a bible presented to Branch Rickey in May 1953 by the Catholic Members of the (Pittsburg) Pirates" and signed by 30 baseball plays including Joe Garagiola. Is it worth anything?
Submitted: 14 days ago.
Category: Antiques Status: CLOSED
  
Optional Information:
Item's Current Condition: Cover is chipped at joints.
What have you tried so far?: Just looked up to see if there were really players in the Pittsburg Pirates of the same name in 1953 and all the names were on the player list. ...

http://imgur.com/a/2PjwI

...

Answer


First, let me say that you have an amazingly original piece there. I have never seen a bible signed and presented to someone like that. As a collector myself, I'd love to know how you acquired it.

The signatures are great and 100% authentic, in my opinion. I did get a chuckle in looking over the autographs, notably that of Cal Abrams. I met Cal many, many years ago and he was no more Catholic than Mickey Mouse. I assume that all of the players just signed the piece to honor Rickey, whether Catholic or not. This bible was signed before the 1953 trade with the Cubs that sent star outfielder Ralph Kiner to the Cubs. That is good, because the 1953 Pirates were a pretty bad team, and Kiner would be one of the main names to have on a team signed item from 1953.

In looking at current market conditions, and comparable sales of other signed, team related items, and taking into account the rarity and unusual nature of such a piece as this, I would put the value at between $600 and $800, if sold at auction.

I hope that this helps!

You should now see the rating process available on your screen. Please remember to complete that before you exit. If you have trouble using the smiley face rating system, please just reply back to me and tell me that you are satisfied so that we can close out this question
 
Sincerely,
Jim

Expert:  SportsCollector
Category:  Antiques
Pos. Feedback:  100.0 %
Accepts:  49
Answered:  1/13/2013
Sportscard Collector
30 years experience collecting baseball memorabilia


   3. BDC Posted: January 26, 2013 at 03:06 PM (#4355562)
he was no more Catholic than Mickey Mouse

Of course, Branch Rickey was less Catholic than Mickey Mouse. All thirty signers can't have been Catholic, anyway; they were just being ecumenical.
   4. Chicago Joe Posted: January 26, 2013 at 04:32 PM (#4355608)

In looking at current market conditions, and comparable sales of other signed, team related items, and taking into account the rarity and unusual nature of such a piece as this, I would put the value at between $600 and $800, if sold at auction.


Seems like a lowball to me.
   5. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: January 26, 2013 at 04:45 PM (#4355611)
Seems like a lowball to me.

It does. I don't really collect stuff, but if I was at a store and saw this item, I would probably buy it for $600 to $800. A hardcore memorabilia guy, I feel, would pay a lot more.
   6. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 26, 2013 at 05:08 PM (#4355617)
It does. I don't really collect stuff, but if I was at a store and saw this item, I would probably buy it for $600 to $800. A hardcore memorabilia guy, I feel, would pay a lot more.

But isn't an auction price typically much lower than a retail price? Most auctions aren't big, high-publicity events.

If you assume most auction buyers are going to be dealers, they're going to look to pay $600-800, and then sell it for $1500-2000.
   7. KJOK Posted: January 26, 2013 at 05:17 PM (#4355619)
Of course, Branch Rickey was less Catholic than Mickey Mouse. All thirty signers can't have been Catholic, anyway; they were just being ecumenical


It sounds like someone said "Rickey's religious, why don't we get him a bible?" or something, and purchased A bible, not reaalizing perhaps that there are more than one? Rickey certainly would have never purchased a Catholic Bible for himself, and likely would have considered it not a TRUE bible.

   8. tshipman Posted: January 26, 2013 at 05:55 PM (#4355635)
In looking at current market conditions, and comparable sales of other signed, team related items, and taking into account the rarity and unusual nature of such a piece as this, I would put the value at between $600 and $800, if sold at auction.


Best I can do is $200. It's gonna take up room in my shop, and it's a really limited market for these kinds of things. It's gonna sit here for a year. Two-hundred, cash money. Take it or leave it.
   9. Swedish Chef Posted: January 26, 2013 at 06:24 PM (#4355649)
Best I can do is $200. It's gonna take up room in my shop, and it's a really limited market for these kinds of things. It's gonna sit here for a year. Two-hundred, cash money. Take it or leave it.

And that's cutting your own throat.
   10. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 26, 2013 at 06:57 PM (#4355669)
Rickey's Bible/1953 Pirates

"The last will be first and the first will be last with you, so they can certainly be last without you."
   11. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 26, 2013 at 10:13 PM (#4355752)
In looking at current market conditions, and comparable sales of other signed, team related items, and taking into account the rarity and unusual nature of such a piece as this, I would put the value at between $600 and $800, if sold at auction.


Best I can do is $200. It's gonna take up room in my shop, and it's a really limited market for these kinds of things. It's gonna sit here for a year. Two-hundred, cash money. Take it or leave it.

Depends on whether or not you're plugged into the sports memorabilia auction circuit, but I think tshipman's more in the ballpark for what a dealer would be likely to offer.

First, if there's any need for repairs to the cover or binding, that's going to add another couple of hundred dollars to the cost, and without those repairs, the retail value goes way down. This sort of question comes up all the time in the antiquarian book trade, much to the disappointment of people who inherit boxes of decaying leather books and never bother to take condition into consideration.

Second, there aren't any players on the 1953 Pirates whose signatures are particularly valuable. Kiner's autographs are a figurative dime a dozen. Rickey's signature would be worth more than any of them, but he wasn't one of the signers. And unlike the 1952 team that was historically bad, the 1953 squad was just one of many last place Pirates teams from that era.

The point is that offering $200 on the wholesale level seems quite fair, unless you had it pre-sold to someone like Rickey's grandson, who wanted it for sentimental reasons. The only way I'd hedge that is to note that the publicity alone might well jack up the price beyond what it ever might have gotten normally, but in an ordinary major sports auction this kind of item would be way down near the bottom of the pack. You'd almost certainly get more for a PSA high graded 1953 Kiner baseball card.
   12. Cblau Posted: January 26, 2013 at 10:49 PM (#4355763)
This can't be legitimate. The 1953 Pirates didn't have a prayer.
   13. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 26, 2013 at 10:58 PM (#4355766)

Depends on whether or not you're plugged into the sports memorabilia auction circuit, but I think tshipman's more in the ballpark for what a dealer would be likely to offer.


I'm pretty sure he was parodying the typical collectibles store-owner's response to such an offering. Though I worked at such an establishment for a couple of years, & if we'd gone half that I'd have been mildly surprised.

We used to have a football that had been signed by seemingly half the star quarterbacks from, I dunno, 1950-1975 -- about 2 dozen guys, including Otto Graham & a number of other HOFers -- that sat on our shelves for at least a year before it finally went for $250, as I recall, about 7 years ago. Of course, those autographs weren't authenticated ... but neither are these Pirates'.

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