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1953 Pittsburgh Pirates Autographs Uncovered In Bible Donated To Sacramento Library

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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A Bible with a page of baseball history has been uncovered among the dusty donation piles at the Sacramento Library.

No one knows who dropped off the mystery book, but it’s drawing a lot of interest from collectors and fans alike.

When Joanne Murphy roams the stacks of donated books for the Friends of the Sacramento Library, she often feels like Indiana Jones.

“Nobody can look in every single book that goes through,” she said. “It’s a treasure hunt.”

But nothing had really prepared her for the sacred stunner she was going to find under a battered Bible cover.

“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,” she said.

She didn’t tackle the project for a few months, but when she did, the apprentice restorer perked up at a dedication page.

“I saw the 1953 Pirates, and thought it might be a church team, but then i saw Joe Garagiola and thought ‘That sounds familiar. I think I know that name,'” she said.

She found 30-plus autographs, most of the 1953 Pittsburgh Pirates, along with team owner Branch Rickey, who later broke baseball’s color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson. Their story will be chronicled in a movie soon out starring Harrison Ford as Rickey.

“The players gave him this Bible, and somewhere along the line it was given away or dumped,” she said.

No one knows the worth of this find. A ball signed by Rickey alone fetched more than $1,000 at a recent auction. But Joanne is relishing the dramatic discovery.

“Probably be 30 years before I find another one,” she said.

The Bible will go on display at the library’s main branch in mid-February for Black History Month.

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