Effa L. Manley
- Born March 27, 1897 in Philadelphia, PA USA
- Died April 16, 1981 in Los Angeles, CA USA
Effa L. Manley (March 27, 1897 – April 16, 1981) was a female American sports executive. She was the first woman inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. She co-owned the Newark Eagles baseball franchise in the Negro leagues with her husband Abe from 1935 to 1946 and was sole owner through 1948 after his death. Throughout that time she served as the team's business manager and fulfilled many of her husband's duties as treasurer of the Negro National League.
Manley was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Some say her biological parents were white, but she was raised by her Black stepfather and white mother, leading most to assume her stepfather was her biological father and therefore to classify her as black.
According to the book The Most Famous Woman in Baseball by Bob Luke, Effie was born through an extramarital union between her African American seamstress mother, Bertha Ford Brooks, and Bertha's white employer, Philadelphia stockbroker John Marcus Bishop. So she may actually have been of mixed heritage, leaving the matter of her race in question.
She married Abe Manley in 1935 after meeting him at a New York Yankees game, and he involved her extensively in the operation of his own club, the Eagles. She displayed particular skill in the area of marketing and often scheduled promotions that advanced the civil rights movement. Her most noteworthy success was the Eagles' victory in the Negro League World Series in 1946.
She worked to improve the condition of the players in the entire league. She advocated better scheduling, pay, and accommodations. Her players traveled in an air-conditioned Flxible Clipper bus, considered extravagant for the Negro leagues.
She took over day-to-day business operations of the team, arranged playing schedules, planned the team's travel, managed and met the payroll, bought the equipment, negotiated contracts, and handled publicity and promotions. Thanks to her rallying efforts, more than 185 VIPs—including New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, who threw out the first pitch, and Charles C. Lockwood, justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York—were on hand to watch the Eagles' inaugural game in 1935.
Her influence extended beyond baseball; she was active in the black civil rights movement and a social activist. As part of her work for the Citizens' League for Fair Play, Manley organized a 1934 boycott of stores that refused to hire black salesclerks. After six weeks, the owners of the store (Blumstein's Department Store) gave in, and by the end of 1935 some 300 stores on 125th Street employed blacks. Manley was the treasurer of the Newark chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and often used Eagles games to promote civic causes. In 1939 she held an "Anti-Lynching Day" at Ruppert Stadium.
Among the Eagles players during her ownership were future major league stars such as Larry Doby, Monte Irvin, and Don Newcombe.
Effa Manley died at age 84 in Los Angeles, California. She was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in February 2006.By The Baseball Page