SLOWLY, THE barricades are coming down. On Monday a special baseball Hall of Fame committee elected the first woman to the shrine: the late Effa Manley, general manager and co-owner of the Newark Eagles, one of the stalwart teams of the Negro leagues. Manley, who looked like a Hollywood starlet, ran the club with a keen understanding of profit and social conscientiousness. Her teams were dominating.
When Bruce Sutter is inducted in Cooperstown on July 30, he will have plenty of company. In addition to Manley, the Negro leagues committee, which will vote just this once, elected 12 players and four executives, creating the largest-ever Hall induction class. None of the committee's choices is alive. It was anticipated that 94-year-old Buck O'Neil (far left), the Kansas City Monarchs first baseman, manager and legend, would get in, but he did not.
The 12-person committee, chaired by former commissioner Fay Vincent, was asked to review Negro leaguers and other players of color who were never given thorough Hall consideration. "It's embarrassingly late," Vincent said. On Sunday, Hall of Famer Frank Robinson spoke to the group and asked members to vote on worthiness and not to "correct a social wrong." They did both.
COURTESY OF NEGRO LEAGUES BASEBALL MUSEUM, INC. (MANLEY)
PIONEER Manley (with husband Abe) ran one of the Negro leagues' top teams for 13 years.
NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME LIBRARY, COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (O'NEIL)