‘Ridiculous Catholic’ features in baseball book

Coach Rich Donnelly recounts his story of loss and redemption

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Photo: Zondervan

A central character in the “greatest baseball story ever told” is a Catholic who never played an inning in the big leagues but coached for 30 years in the majors.

The Chicken Runs at Midnight tells the improbable story of strong-willed coach Rich Donnelly and his equally strong-willed teenage daughter Amy as she was battling brain cancer while her dad’s team was making a playoff push, Catholic News Service reported.

To make a great story short, it’s not the happiest of endings. She died in 1993, but the chicken indeed did run at midnight.

“I was a ridiculous Catholic,” said Donnelly, now 72.

“Besides being a priest, I don’t think there was anyone more religious in the world. Say your morning prayers when you wake up, say a prayer to St. Jude, the patron saint to helpless causes, which is me, say three decades of the rosary, go to morning Mass, do the Stations of the Cross, make a May altar in your room when you are 8 and keep in there until you are 17.

“I would pray to God all day. I’d walk my hometown of Steubenville, Ohio. It had 14 Catholic churches. I felt if I didn’t have a visit [when passing by], that was like a sin. So that’s what I did.

“When I was 8, 9 and 10, I celebrated Mass myself. I got a load of DiCarlo’s Italian bread. I made little hosts up, I had an imaginary congregation. I knew all the prayers in Latin as I was an altar boy, so I did all the Latin prayers by myself.”

The book, written by Tom Friend and published by Zondervan, is being released this month.

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