NEGRO LEAGUES BASEBALL TEAM OWNER
In the 1930s and 1940s, Effa Manley was known as the Queen of the Negro Leagues. Manley first rose to prominence in the sport of baseball as the co-owner of the Brooklyn Eagles in 1935, a club she operated with her husband, Abe Manley. In 1935, major league baseball was an entirely segregated sport, and the Negro Leagues served to provide a professional baseball outlet for black players and their predominately black fan base in the cities of the northeastern United States.
During World War II, the Negro Leagues prospered and its teams developed many outstanding players. Many of these players ultimately moved to the major leagues after the Brooklyn Dodgers obtained the services of Negro League star Jackie Robinson in 1947, breaking baseball's color barrier.
Manley was a social activist during the 1930s, when she was instrumental in organizing a store boycott in Harlem to pressure white business owners to hire more black sales clerks. Manley was also a well regarded member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Manley achieved her greatest prominence in the Negro Leagues after 1936, when she and Abe Manley moved the Brooklyn Eagles to Newark, New Jersey. Manley was the driving force in the operation of the Newark franchise, where she was responsible for all financial and business decisions regarding the team. Manley was admired as an owner who cared abut the players welfare in all respects; she and her husband sponsored a team in the Puerto Rican winter leagues at that time to ensure that the Newark players had employment in the off-season.
After Jackie Robinson left the Negro Leagues in 1947, major league baseball began to sign other Negro League stars, including Newark's Larry Doby and Don Newcombe, both of whom would ultimately be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Negro League was no longer viable, and the league folded in 1948. Manley lobbied unsuccessfully for compensation from major league baseball for the loss of the players developed in the Negro Leagues.
Effa Manley was the only female owner in the history of the Negro League. In 2006, she became the first woman to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
SEE ALSO Baseball.