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

Roaring Brook. Jan. 2021. 336p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781250623720.
Gr 6-9–An important hole in baseball literature is addressed in this nonfiction recollection of businesswoman Effa Manley’s role in the rise and fall of the Negro Leagues. Effa’s role as a light-skinned woman who grew up in a biracial family and fought for rights for Black people and women is portrayed through detailed narratives and passionate quotes from her career as a co-owner of the Newark Eagles with her husband Abe Manley. The narrative explores the 19th-century beginnings of the Negro Leagues, to the recruitment of Black players to the major leagues, to its ultimate downfall. The biography of Effa Manley’s life is intertwined with, and sometimes overwhelmed by, the history of the Negro Leagues as a whole. Endnotes and sources are very detailed and the narration reads like a textbook with a small amount of archival photos and pull quotes. The conclusion features a story about Effa purchasing a mink cape with her final paycheck, which is dramatic and endearing—however it leaves a big gap for readers. The remainder of Effa’s life is not addressed, nor is her inclusion into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
VERDICT A detailed history of Negro League baseball focusing on Effa Manley’s life and a supplemental addition to middle school sports collections.

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