Sunday, July 30, 2006

Manley: Pioneer, Hall of Famer

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. - When the late Effa Manley is inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum today, emotions will flow among the family present to see the Philadelphia-born pioneer of the Negro League era honored.

The family contingent is led by Manley's niece, Connie Brooks, a wonderfully proud proponent of the era, its pioneers and their legacies. Especially Effa Manley.

Even when I was young, I knew that she was very special," said Brooks, a self-described "70-something" year-old retired social worker who lives in Jersey City. "But, to be truthful, I knew that the Hall did not put in all the people that should have been in. But I knew that somebody somewhere had to put her in, because she was definitely before her time."

"I'm extremely proud of her because, No. 1, she's a woman and this is a man's thing here," said Brooks. "And I know she would have been proud. And I know if my grandmother was living, or any of the seven siblings, they would say 'it's been a long journey for all of us, but Effie, yo made it" and rally around her like I don't know what."

Manley will join not only Irvin in the Cooperstown, N.Y., hall, but other greats who played for her, including Larry Doby, the first black player in the American League; and Negro league luminaries Leon Day, Roy Dandridge and Willie Wells.

Player-manager Biz Mackey, who led Manley's Newark Eagles to the 1946 Negro League World Series crown;, and another Eagles all-star, Mule Suttles, also will be inducted. They enter the Hall as part of a group of 17 African Americans selected by a committee of former players and historians that Major League Baseball put together in 2001 to recognize the contributions of black players to the sport's early days.

Relief pitcher Bruce Sutter also is entering the Hall, through the regular annual voting process.

To read the full Effa Manley story that appeared in today's Philadelphia Inquirer, click on this link: Queen of Baseball.

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