Effa Manley was a trailblazing baseball executive for the Negro League’s Newark Eagles. Manley, a civil rights activist, is the only woman inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
After high school, Manley moved from Philadelphia to New York. While working on social issues, her off time would be spent watching baseball. During the 1932 World Series, she met her future husband, Abe.
Abe was an established baseball man, and the two partnered in 1935 to run the Newark Eagles of the Negro Baseball League. She concentrated on contracts, scheduling, and promotion as the team’s co-owner. She created quite the name for herself as a master of promotion of the league.
Abe and Effa had parental influence over younger players, helping with personal care for the players on and off the field. She assisted them with jobs in the offseason. She helped purchase a bus worth $15,000 for the team’s travel while working on getting players the best accommodations on the road.
When Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson to play for the Dodgers, Manley fought to get compensation for Negro League owners and recognition of the league’s contracts.
Manley and the Negro Leagues did receive compensation for Larry Doby, who played for the Eagles and was the first African American to play in the American League for the then-Cleveland Indians. The compensation created legitimacy for the Negro Leagues and established a precedent for player compensation.
Under her leadership, the Eagles won the 1946 Negro League World Series against the Kansas City Monarchs. She sold the team to a group of investors in 1948.
Manley was said to have a complicated racial background but did identify with the African American community.
Who is Effa Manley?
Manley’s efforts as a civil rights leader included working with local businesses to hire African-American employees. It was known as a “Don’t Buy Where You Can’t Work” campaign. She frequently leveraged the team’s influence to promote charitable causes, equality boycotts, anti-lynching activism, and social services for Black servicemen during World War II. She wrote letters lobbying for Negro Leaguers to be admitted into Cooperstown.
Manley documented her time with the Negro Leagues in a scrapbook she donated to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
When was Effa Manley inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame?
Manley passed away in April 1981. Manley posthumously became the first woman elected to the Hall of Fame in 2006.
Manley’s voice for the advancement of the Negro League and its players was tremendous in creating an avenue for the players to one day join the Major League. Manley’s efforts are still felt today as her spirit to advocate for players and social issues paved the way for Major League Baseball to become a more welcoming sport with worldwide appeal.