By Victoria Moore, Contributing Writer
Based on the colorful, eccentric life of Effa Manley, co-owner of the baseball team the Newark Eagles, “Queen of the Negro Leagues,” by James Overmyer, offers readers a glimpse into a precious but forgotten time in African-American history.
Inspired by a trip, with his wife Ellen, to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, Overmyer admits it was her suggestion to write an article about Manley that prompted him to create the book.
Delving deeper into research he soon realized Manley’story warranted more. Divided into 10 chapters and accompanied by 17 pages of black and white photographs, the book encompasses her journey within the sports world.
The triumphs and tragedies she faced both from her controversial upbringing, with her husband Abe Manley, and professionally as a businesswoman are all explored. Her unforgettable personal style and role as a civil rights activist, are included as well.
Born as Ethel Ford in Philadelphia in 1897, Effa Manley met Abe Manley at the 1932 World Series at Yankee Stadium, and soon married him. Considered members of the “black upper class” in Harlem, they joined the Negro National League in 1935. Moving their team from Brooklyn to Newark, New Jersey, they gradually became part of the city’s success story until they sold their team in the late 1940s to Dr. W.H. Young and his partners.
While the book does contain a wealth of information about baseball, thereby appealing to sports enthusiasts, those interested in African-American history, the Depression, World War II, and civil rights will also enjoy reading it.
“Many things have been discovered about Negro League baseball since the first version of this book was published in 1993,” wrote author James Overmyer in the introduction. “But the most compelling reason for the revised edition is to put a cap on Effa Manley’s career.”
Known as a baseball history author who specializes in the Negro Leagues, James Overmyer is also a member of the Society for American Baseball Research and of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He currently lives in Tucson, Arizona.
Queen of the Negro Leagues is available through Rowman and Littlefield Publishing, www.rowman.com.