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Effa Manley: baseball wheeler-dealer

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Effa Manley was the only woman owner in the Negro baseball leagues. Manley co-owned the Newark Eagles with her husband Abe, but it was Effa who ran the show. Anything to do with contracts and logistics was her job. During World War II, she took the team on the road more and more often to keep it afloat.

She also became a crackerjack negotiator. When pitcher Monte Irvin asked for a $25-a-month raise upon marrying, Manley wouldn’t budge from $125 a month. But after the war, when the Negro Leagues ramped up again, she raised Irvin’s pay to $600 a month and bought the team an air-conditioned bus.

That year—1946—proved to be the Eagles’ high-water mark, with Joe Louis himself throwing out the game ball in the seventh game of the championship, as Newark wrested the title from the perennial champs, the Kansas City Monarchs.

A year later, Jackie Robinson broke the Major Leagues color barrier and the Negro Leagues began to die. But Manley wouldn’t go without a fight, demanding—and getting—$5,000 from the New York Giants for signing away Irvin.

Manley sold the team in 1948. Later in life, she was never shy about putting forward her former Eagles players for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Now, it’s her turn to be inducted on July 30.

—Adapted from “Woman of Summer,” Wil Haygood, The Washington Post.

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