Last updated: July 25. 2013 11:21AM - 246 Views

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Wayne Allen

Common Staff Writer

Portsmouth Murals Inc. is in the process of collecting letters of support from across the community in its efforts to get a Bible formerly owned by Scioto County native Branch Rickey, donated to them.

Bob Morton, President of Portsmouth Murals Inc., believes they may have recently received a letter of support recently that will help sway the decision.

Thus far the group has received letters of support letters from, the Portsmouth Public Library, Lee Lowenfish, author of the award-winning book Branch Rickey; Baseball’s Ferocious Gentleman.

State Representative Dr. Terry Johnson, Scioto County Commissioners and Branch Rickey, a grandson of the late Branch Rickey.

Rickey writes, “friends of mine in Portsmouth, Ohio have asked that I contact you relative to the ‘mystery bible’ that has come into your possession…I am connected to Branch Rickey by virtue of being his grandson, and having discussed this novel item with a number of other Rickey family members, I believe I can say that I am writing on behalf of our clan,” Rickey wrote. “This organization (Portsmouth Murals Inc.,) is quite probably the most enthusiastic group I can think of in terms of wanting to promote the Rickey legacy. It would certainly seem very natural that this volume be on display in the new Welcome Center in Portsmouth as they are advocating.”

When the commissioners endorsed the idea chairman Mike Crabtree said, “a library in Sacramento, California has a Bible that was presented to Branch Rickey a number of years ago and they want to donate that to a charitable organization. They were thinking about donating it to Cooperstown. Branch Rickey is buried in Scioto County and his house still stands on Duck Run. His roots are here and they (murals) would like to have that Bible here as opposed to Cooperstown. There are tons of items there (Cooperstown) and it may get lost in the shuffle, they would like to have it here where it will be one of a few rather than one of many items.”

Morton believes the letter from Rickey may be the thing that sways the library to donate the Bible to them.

“We think the endorsement from Branch Rickey III, that should leave out any question as to where the Bible should go,” Morton said.

According to published reports, the Bible contains 31 signatures, with a heading in blue ink that reads - “Pirates 1953.”

Born in Scioto County in 1881, Wesley Branch Rickey was many things: a school teacher, a college and professional baseball and football player, coach, lawyer and a soldier. He received three college degrees from Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio.

In 1942, he 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 being produced by Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures. The movie is titled “42” and is scheduled to be released in early April.

For up to the date information about the movie visit the film’s Facebook page.

Morton said the library is expected to make a decision on where the Bible will be donated to in April.

Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-1151, or tallen@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.

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