#Shortstops: Effa’s scrapbook
There are currently 329 plaques lining the walls of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Those esteemed individuals include players, umpires, pioneers, executives, managers, and journalists…And one pioneering woman: Effa B. Manley.
Manley co-owned the Negro National League Newark Eagles with her husband, Abraham Manley, and was also the business manager for the team. Together they invested $100,000 into their team in the 1930s-1940s, which today translates into more than a million dollars. Manley was a pioneer who was essential to the success of the Negro National League. She is praised for her keen business sense and knowing how to promote her team.
Manley was also instrumental in getting Major League Baseball to recognize the Negro League’s legitimacy.
Born March 27, 1897, Manley kept a personal scrapbook which details her personal and professional life. The scrapbook chronicles news coverage of big leagues “Ignoring Colored Aces” to Jackie Robinson breaking the color line, and the fall of the National Negro League.
Manley does not shy away from the darker, more challenging parts of her life. She included articles about the Manley’s’ split with Satchel Paige, as well as the troubles within the National Negro League. Effa and her husband fought against white bookers for Negro owner’s right to control the league. An outspoken owner, Effa Manley crossed proverbial swords with fellow Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey. She rebutted a criticism Robinson made of the Negro Leagues, and reprimanded Rickey as well as the rest of MLB for not compensating Negro owners for the baseball players they “stole” –as MLB owners often ignored Negro Leagues contracts when signing African-American players.
Manley’s scrapbook, while mostly pertaining to baseball, also includes news articles about the important goings on in the African-American community, including boycotts, women’s activism, and African-American celebrities.
There are even a few pages dedicated to heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis. The scrapbook contains articles, photos, and certificates awarded to her for her community service.
Naturally, the scrapbook contains many personal touches: Sermons found in newspapers, quotes on life and love, and Manley’s retrospective comments on her own life. Under an article titled “New duties indicate moguls have finally recognized her ability as an executive” her comment is wry, “How wrong I was”.
Near another article about Jackie Robinson, “Robbie up for Trade? Who wants him?” she notes “the story appeared in the first edition of the news and was taken out of all following editions”. Her love for her players can be seen when she records the names of players missing from team photos under an article in the New Jersey Herald. Her humility can be observed when under one newspaper clip praising her she writes “This credit all belongs to Abe”.
Manley’s willingness to include the not-so-savory parts of her life as well as the more glamorous aspects; testify to her character. As is the way reporters described her, although laced with gender bias of the time. Manley was deemed “Effusive Effa”, and one reporter said: “She is not the usual know-all busybody woman, delving into a man’s affairs. Rather she is intensely interested, well informed, capable, efficient, and strong willed woman who runs a man’s business better than most of the men who are engaged in it, and commands respect everywhere in the sphere of big league baseball.”
Kallan Jackson was the 2019 library research intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development