Review of Baseball's Leading Lady: Effa Manley and the Rise and Fall of the Negro Leagues

Baseball’s Leading Lady: Effa Manley and the Rise and Fall of the Negro Leagues
by Andrea Williams
Middle School    Roaring Brook    336 pp.    g
1/21    978-1-250-62372-0    $19.99
e-book ed.  978-1-250-62373-7    $10.99

September 1946. Effa Manley is in the stands of New York City’s Polo Grounds to watch a Negro World Series game between the Kansas City Monarchs and the Newark Eagles. She is the owner of the Eagles, a league executive, and a highly successful Black woman of the 1930s and 1940s, and this game is a celebration of “Black baseball, of Black community, of new Black money that had come streaming into the community via the war and accompanying hiring sprees.” Manley is passionate about the game and envisions the Negro Leagues in partnership with Major League Baseball as farm teams that would “keep Black baseball in operation, and…also support integration by providing a steady stream of Black talent for the Majors.” It is not the direction that baseball went, but ­Williams’s story of Effa Manley and baseball is a dramatic narrative tapestry of America in Manley’s time: the Harlem Renaissance; Booker T. Washington; ­Marcus ­Garvey; Babe Ruth and the Yankees; Negro Leagues greats Satchel Paige, Larry Doby, Moses Fleetwood Walker, and Josh Gibson; the Great Depression; and on into the era of integrated baseball with the signing of Jackie Robinson in 1945. A large font, spacious page design, and well-selected black-and-white photographs — along with the fascinating history — make for an inviting read and a good match with Nelson’s We Are the Ship (rev. 5/08). Back matter includes an author’s note, extensive source notes, a thorough bibliography, and an index.

From the July/August 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Dean Schneider
Dean Schneider teaches seventh and eighth grades at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee.

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