Baseball’s First Lady- Effa Manley born March 27, 1897

As a businesswoman in a primarily man’s world, Effa Manley wanted to be a winner. Though the only woman among an industry of male owners, Manley got her wish in 1946, when the Newark Eagles, owned by her and her husband Abe, won the Negro League World Series, defeating the Kansas City Monarchs.

Her career is a testament to her commitment to baseball and civil rights – and to her vision and dedication to creating respect for Negro Leagues baseball.

Born on March 27, 1897, Manley grew up in Philadelphia, but her commitment to the game and civil rights began when she moved to New York following high school. Often found at Yankee Stadium watching Babe Ruth, Manley dedicated her time to local social organizations and causes. For example, in 1935 she walked the picket line in a successful campaign to get local businesses to hire African-American employees, a “Don’t Buy Where You Can’t Work” campaign.

While attending one of the World Series games in 1932, Manley met her future husband, Abe. Nearly 15 years her senior, Abe had already established his reputation in the local community as a baseball man. Together they forged a partnership that resulted in the rapid rise to fame of the Newark Eagles, a team they owned from 1935 (moved from Brooklyn to Newark in 1936) until she sold the club to a group of investors in 1948.

Manley also used her position with the club to promote a variety of causes and benefits. The team invited soldiers during World War II to Eagles games for free. The club hosted benefits for causes such as the Harlem Fight for Freedom Committee and the Newark Community Hospital. One of the benefit games featured a “Stop Lynching” theme, with ticket takers collecting donations and wearing sashes to promote the cause.

Off the field, Manley was a well-known civil rights advocate, frequently leveraging the Eagles’ influence to promote charitable causes, equality boycotts, anti-lynching activism, and social services for Black servicemen during World War II.

The year 1932 marked a major change in Effa Manley’s life. A baseball fan who rooted for Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees, she recounted meeting her second husband, Abraham Manley, at the 1932 World Series.4 If correct, the two met on either September 28 or 29, 1932, at one of the Yankees home games. They may have met earlier as evidenced by an event co-hosted by the Manleys on January 29, 1932, in Camden, New Jersey.5 Whenever they met, they were married by the Manhattan city clerk on June 15, 1933. Their marriage would last until Abe’s death in 1952..

In 1938 the Manleys moved to an apartment at 55 Somerset Street and an office at 101 Montgomery in the Third Ward of Newark. In 1941 they purchased a three-story house at 71 Crawford Street.8 By this time, Effa was publicly overseeing the day-to-day operations, marketing, and fiscal management of the Newark Eagles. She also took over the task of press interviews from Abe. In addition to assuming those responsibilities, Effa arranged playing schedules, booked accommodations for the players on the road, publicized the games, purchased equipment, and negotiated contracts.9 She also kept an eye on the behavior of the players.Effa worked to preserve the history of the Negro Leagues and to celebrate their best players. In 1976 she collaborated with Leon Herbert Hartwick to write Negro Baseball …

In 1971 the Hall of Fame created the Special Committee on the Negro Leagues to elect Negro League players. The committee disbanded in 1977 after electing nine players. Effa began a letter-writing campaign with the goal of establishing a new committee to review all players from the Negro Leagues and to select those to have their names inscribed on a plaque. On June 20, 1977, The Sporting News’s editor, C.C. Johnson Spink, penned a full column about the quest of a “furious woman.”29 In 1978, Manley attended the Second Annual Negro Baseball League Reunion as the special honoree. In 2006 the Hall of Fame established another committee on Negro Leagues, which elected 17 more Negro Leagues figures, including Effa Manley, who was the first woman to receive such recognition

SPURCE: Baseball Hall Fame; So Irtysh Of A Eric’s Baseball Research

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