Today's New York Times contains a fascinating piece on Effa Manley, who yesterday became the first woman to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, along with 16 other players and administrators from the Negro League era. The child of a white mother and a black stepfather, according to the Times, as the co-owner (with her husband, Abe) of the Newark Eagles, Manley "was active in the civil rights movement and used [baseball] to help promote those causes, including holding an Anti-Lynching Day at a game."
"She was very much ahead of the other owners who were afraid to speak up," says Leslie Heaphy, a historian of the Negro Leagues who was a member of the voting committee that selected Manley. In her day, Manley was well respected for her expert marketing and managerial skills and admired for her efforts to improve working conditions for Negro League players. "While Abe had the money, she was really the one running the show," Heaphy tells the Times.
Before she died in 1981 at the age of 84, Manley herself petitioned the Hall of Fame to consider the induction of a number of Negro League players. Did Manley ever imagine she'd be joining them?