On February 27, 2006, baseball pioneer Effa Manley becomes the first woman elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Manley, who died in 1981, was co-owner of the Newark (New Jersey) Eagles, a Negro League powerhouse, and a huge advocate for Black ballplayers and civil rights causes.
“She’s deserving; she did a lot for the game,” said Hall of Famer Monte Irvin, who played for the Eagles in the 1940s. Irvin, who starred for the New York Giants in the big leagues, was among MLB’s first Black players.
“This is a historic day at the Hall of Fame,” HOF president Dale Petroskey said. “I hoped that someday there would be a woman in the Hall.”
Manley, who co-owned the Eagles with her husband, Abe, ran the business side for the team—Abe had little interest in that role. She eventually assumed many other duties.
“Little by little, I found myself doing more and more, and I finally just ended up completely involved,” Manley said in a 1977 interview.
In the 1940s, Manley feuded with the management from big-league teams, who pursued Negro League stars after Jackie Robinson’s signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers broke MLB’s color line in 1947. General manager Branch Rickey, who signed Robinson, was among her adversaries.
As baseball owner, Manley held an Anti-Lynching Day at the ballpark.
“She did a lot for the Newark community,” Irvin said. “She was a well-rounded, influential person.”