Baseball’s Secret Pioneer

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2014-02-14 22:40Z by Steven

Baseball’s Secret Pioneer

Slate
2014-02-04

Peter Morris, Baseball Historian
Haslett, Michigan

Stefan Fatsis, Sports Writer

William Edward White, the first black player in major-league history, lived his life as a white man.

On June 22, 1937, Joe Louis knocked out James Braddock with a right to the jaw to become the world heavyweight champion. At a time when Major League Baseball was still a decade from integration, Louis’ victory in Chicago’s Comiskey Park was a triumph for black America, and for racial progress. “What my father did was enable white America to think of him as an American, not as a black,” Joe Louis Jr. told ESPN in 1999. “By winning, he became white America’s first black hero.”

Three months before the fight, another notable moment involving race and sports occurred in the same city: the death of a 76-year-old man named William Edward White, of blood poisoning after a slip on an icy sidewalk and a broken arm. Fifty-eight years earlier, White played a single game for the Providence Grays of baseball’s National League to become, as best as can be determined, the first African-American player in big-league history. Unlike Louis’ knockout, though, White’s death merited no coverage in the local or national press. A clue as to why can be found in cursive handwriting in box No. 4 on White’s death certificate, which is labeled COLOR OR RACE. The box reads: “White.”

William Edward White was born in 1860 to a Georgia businessman and one of his slaves, who herself was of mixed race. That made White, legally, black and a slave. But his death certificate and other information indicate that White spent his adult life passing as a white man. Since the 1879 game was unearthed a decade ago, questions about White’s race have clouded his legacy. If he didn’t want other people to think of him as black, did he actually break the sports world’s most infamous racial barrier? Or is the reality of his racial heritage, and the difficult personal issues it no doubt forced him to confront, enough to qualify him as a pioneer? Should William Edward White be recognized during Black History Month alongside Joe Louis and Jackie Robinson and other groundbreaking African-Americans?

These are complicated questions. Allyson Hobbs, an assistant professor of American history at Stanford, says the practice of “racial passing” in America dates at least to runaway slaves in the 1700s. Slaves, she says, often attempted to pass as white to gain their freedom but then lived out their lives as black. By the Jim Crow era, when William White came of age, the social and economic advantages of living as white—and the disadvantages of living as black—were so profound that people who could successfully pass did so and never looked back.

“People who passed did not want to leave a trace,” says Hobbs, whose book A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life will be published by Harvard University Press in the fall. “They did not want to leave records, they did not want to have anyone find them, to discover that they were passing. It’s very difficult to get a well-rounded image of these people’s lives, and that’s by their design. It’s a hidden history, and it’s one that can be very frustrating because there is often so little data available about these people.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Penny Marshall Directing A Dennis Rodman Documentary + Effa Manley Project In Development

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, Women on 2013-09-12 00:34Z by Steven

Penny Marshall Directing A Dennis Rodman Documentary + Effa Manley Project In Development

Shadow and Act: On Cinema of the African Diaspora
2012-09-25

Courtney Singer

Lately, she has been working on a documentary about the basketball player Dennis Rodman, some of which she has been shooting via Skype. That came up because a) Ms. Marshall is a big sports fan. (“You can yell and scream at a game and no one’s taking you away in a white coat.”) And b) “I have a little radar to the insane,” she said. “They seek me out. Dennis and his agent asked if I would do a documentary.”

That was from a recent Wall Street Journal profile of actress/producer/director Penny Marshall, on account of the publication of her book My Mother Was Nuts.

I must admit that Penny Marshall’s name probably won’t be the first one I’d think of if I were to come up with a short list of directors for a Dennis Rodman documentary. But as the director of memorable films like Big, Awakenings, A League Of Their Own, The Preacher’s Wife (and several others) says of herself, she’s drawn to the *insane;* or rather, the *insane* are drawn to her – the supposition there being that Dennis Rodman is *insane.*…

But what I did find there was a project she has in development to direct titled Effa. I almost ignored it when I looked closer, and read the project’s synopsis which reads:

Effa Manley is a white woman “passing” as black during segregation. Outspoken, dynamic and beautiful, she crashes through barriers in the male-dominated world of sports as the first woman to own and manage a professional sports team.

The name didn’t immediately ring the bell, so I looked up Effa Manley to learn that she was also the first woman inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame; She co-owned the Newark Eagles baseball franchise in the Negro leagues with her husband Abe Manley from 1935 to 1946, and was sole owner through 1948 after his death.

She was also active during the America civil rights movement and was a social activist. She died in 1981 at 84 years old.

It’s said that Manley’s racial background is not fully known. Her biological parents may have been white, but she was reportedly raised by her black stepfather and white mother, which lead to assumptions that her stepfather was her biological father and therefore many thought she was black—or at least, bi-racial.

This calls for further research…

Read the entire article here.

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Let’s Learn From the Past: Cumberland Posey Jr.

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States on 2013-09-04 20:03Z by Steven

Let’s Learn From the Past: Cumberland Posey Jr.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
2013-08-29

Michele Sneddon, History Center Communications Assistant

As a standout player, manager and owner, Cumberland Willis Posey Jr. built the Homestead Grays into one of the most successful franchises in Negro League baseball history.

Born on June 20, 1890, Posey grew up in a wealthy African-American household in Homestead. His father, Cumberland “Cap” Posey Sr., was general manager for the Delta Coal Co., president of Diamond Coal and Coke, and president of the Pittsburgh Courier Publishing Co., which became one of the nation’s most influential African-American newspapers.

At Homestead High School, Posey starred as a power-hitting right fielder on the baseball diamond, a fullback on the football field and a dominant guard on the basketball court. Posey attended Penn State University and then the University of Pittsburgh before landing at the Pittsburgh Catholic College of the Holy Ghost, now Duquesne University. He played basketball there and led his team in scoring for three years as “Charles Cumbert,” a fake name used to gain eligibility as a “white” player. While Posey never graduated from college, he established a reputation as one of the region’s top athletes…

Read the entire article here.

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Hall of Fame Has Always Made Room for Infamy

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2013-01-10 02:23Z by Steven

Hall of Fame Has Always Made Room for Infamy

The New York Times
2013-01-08

Bill Pennington

The Baseball Hall of Fame, the most august fraternity of its kind in American sports, unveils its latest induction class Wednesday. For the first time this year, balloters must weigh the fate of two eminent stars, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, who are also the most celebrated poster boys for the game’s disgraced steroid era.

Players linked to steroid use have been resoundingly rejected by Hall of Fame voters in recent years, shunned as synthetically enhanced frauds. But drawing an integrity line in the sand is a tenuous stance at a Hall of Fame with a membership that already includes multiple virulent racists, drunks, cheats, brawlers, drug users and at least one acknowledged sex addict.

In the spirit of Groucho Marx, who refused to join any club that would have him as a member, would not baseball’s 77-year-old gallery of rogues be the perfect fit for Bonds and Clemens?

Robert W. Cohen, who wrote the 2009 book “Baseball Hall of Fame — or Hall of Shame?”, readily recalled a catalog of reprehensible acts by Hall of Fame inductees.

“Baseball has always had some form of hypocrisy when it comes to its exalted heroes,” he said. “In theory, when it comes to these kinds of votes, it’s true that character should matter, but once you’ve already let in Ty Cobb, how can you exclude anyone else?”…

…“Cap Anson helped make sure baseball’s color line was established in the 1880s,” Thorn said of the Chicago Cubs first baseman and manager who was enshrined in the Hall of Fame the year it opened in Cooperstown, N.Y., in 1939. “He was relentless in that cause.”

Anson repeatedly refused to take the field if the opposing roster included black players. Anson had plenty of co-conspirators. The Chicago White Sox owner Charles Comiskey, also a member of the Hall of Fame class of 1939, “outed” the African-American infielder Charlie Grant, who was posing as a Cherokee on the preseason exhibition roster of the Baltimore Orioles team led by John McGraw (Hall of Fame class of 1937).

Overseeing baseball’s segregationist policy in three decades was Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis (Hall of Fame class of 1944). When Landis died in 1944, an initiative was begun to break the color barrier, an effort that culminated with Jackie Robinson’s Brooklyn Dodgers debut in the spring of 1947…

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Multicultural children’s baseball team founded

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive on 2012-04-26 21:00Z by Steven

Multicultural children’s baseball team founded

The Korea Times
2012-04-20

Kim Bo-eun

Former baseball player Heo Koo-youn, 61, will found a baseball team for children of interracial families in Korea, Monday.

The team will be called Heo Koo-youn Rainbow Little.

The initiation ceremony will be held at the National Baseball Center in Goyang, north of Seoul.
 
The junior team will be comprised of about 20 children from interracial and underprivileged families residing in Goyang…

…“The team is designed to help resolve the problems troubling interracial families through sports,” Heo said in a phone interview with The Korea Times Friday…

Read the entire article here.

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Derek Jeter embodies MLK’s dream

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2012-01-17 05:26Z by Steven

Derek Jeter embodies MLK’s dream

ESPN New York
2012-01-16

Wallace Matthews

Biracial Yankees captain a symbol of the America Martin Luther King once envisioned

When the average person thinks of Derek Jeter, he or she is likely to think of the 3,000 hits, or the five World Series rings, or the highlight reel full of great plays he has made over the past 16 years for the New York Yankees.

They are likely to linger on the countless clutch hits he has delivered in key moments, or the 2000 World Series MVP, or the fact he has been captain of the Yankees for nearly a decade and the face of the franchise for considerably longer than that.

It is a safe bet that for most people, one of the last things they think about when they think about Derek Jeter is his race. Or, more correctly, his races.

To all the remarkable accomplishments Jeter has achieved in his Cooperstown-bound baseball career, add one that few of us ever bother to think about—that Jeter is the product of a mixed-race marriage, a happenstance that at one time would have caused him to suffer hardship, if not scorn, from many, but now is just another fact in the Derek Jeter biography.

As we celebrate Martin Luther King Day, it is important to understand that of all the things Derek Jeter is, one of the most significant is that he is a symbol of the kind of America Dr. King hoped one day to live in…

…Jeter, always wary of discussing topics outside of his comfort zone—the baseball diamond—declined a request to be interviewed for this story.

 But Dr. Harry Edwards, a sociologist and black activist of the 1960s who has spoken and written extensively on the subject of race and professional athletics, explained Jeter’s appeal as a combination both of his unique attributes as an athlete and individual, and as a sign that the United States, throughout its history often bitterly divided along racial, ethnic and territorial lines, is moving toward an era of diversity and inclusion.

“I think it’s absolutely appropriate in the 21st century that a Derek Jeter should be the face of the premier baseball team in this country,” Edwards said. “When you talk about leadership and production and consistency and durability over the years, what he has achieved and what he has accomplished, and more than that, the way that he has done it is just absolutely phenomenal. He is one of our real athletic heroes and role models to the point that his race or ethnicity does not matter.”…

Read the entire article here.

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She Just Loved Baseball

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2011-10-21 03:34Z by Steven

She Just Loved Baseball

Black Athlete Sports Network
2010-02-28

Bill Carroll

NEW YORK—Effa Manley was seemingly yet another “lost” pioneer in Negro Leagues Baseball before being posthumously honored in 2006 with induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

She was part of a class of players and executives selected by a special committee chaired by former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent. But a plaque for the only woman inducted in the Hall of Fame barely touches the surface of an often controversial life.

Manley was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her mother, Bertha Ford Brooks, was of German and East-Indian descent. Bertha, who was a seamstress, gave birth to Effa after becoming pregnant by her wealthy White employer, John M. Bishop.

Bertha’s husband, Benjamin Brooks, who was Black, sued Bishop and received a settlement of $10,000 before he and Bertha divorced.  Bertha later remarried, and Effa was raised in a household with a Black stepfather and Black half-siblings.

Inheriting somewhat dark skin from her mother, she chose to live as a Black person, leading most people to assume her stepfather was her biological father and to classify her as Black.

After graduation from high school in Philadelphia, she moved to New York to work in the millinery business. She met Abe Manley, an African-American man 24 years older than she, at the 1932 World Series at Yankee Stadium, where she had gone to see her favorite player, Babe Ruth

…The Newark Eagles were founded in 1936 when the Newark Dodgers merged with the Brooklyn Eagles. The Eagles sported the likes of Hall-of-Famers Larry Doby, Monte Irvin, Ray Dandridge, Leon Day, and Willie Wells.  The Eagles shared Ruppert Stadium with the Newark Bears, beginning in 1936…

…In addition to managing her baseball team, Manley was also a social activist for Civil rights. She organized a boycott of Harlem stores when they wouldn’t hire Black salesclerks. It took only six weeks for the stores to give in.

As a result, one year after the boycott, 300 stores employed Blacks. She held an “Anti-Lynching Day” at Ruppert Stadium and was treasurer for the Newark chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)…

Read the entire article here.

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First woman among 17 elected to baseball Hall

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2011-10-19 04:33Z by Steven

First woman among 17 elected to baseball Hall

Associated Press
2006-02-27

TAMPA, Fla.—Effa Manley became the first woman elected to the baseball Hall of Fame when the former Newark Eagles executive was among 17 people from the Negro Leagues and pre-Negro Leagues chosen Monday by a special committee.

“This is a historic day at the Hall of Fame,” shrine president Dale Petroskey said. “I hoped that someday there would be a woman in the Hall. It’s a pretty proud moment.”…

…Manley co-owned the New Jersey-based Eagles with her husband, Abe, and ran the business end of the team for more than a decade. The Eagles won the Negro Leagues World Series in 1946—one year before Jackie Robinson broke the major-league color barrier.

“She was very knowledgeable, a very handsome woman,” said Hall of Famer Monte Irvin, who played for the Eagles while the Manleys owned the team, as did Don Newcombe and Larry Doby.

“She did a lot for the Newark community. She was just a well-rounded, influential person,” Irvin said. “She tried to organize the owners to build their own parks and have a balanced schedule and to really improve the lot of the Negro League players.”

Manley was white but married a black man and passed as a black woman, said Larry Lester, a baseball author and member of the voting committee.

“She campaigned to get as much money as possible for these ballplayers, and rightfully so,” Lester said.

Manley used baseball to advance civil rights causes with events such as an Anti-Lynching Day at the ballpark. She died in 1981 at age 84.

“She was a pioneer in so many ways, in terms of integrating the team with the community,” said Leslie Heaphy, a Kent State professor on the committee. “She’s also one of the owners who pushed very hard to get recognition for Major League Baseball when they started to sign some of their players.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Author Talk and Book Signing: Bob Luke

Posted in History, Live Events, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2011-10-19 03:31Z by Steven

Author Talk and Book Signing: Bob Luke

National Portrait Gallery
Bookstore
Eighth and F Streets NW
Washington, D.C.
2011-10-19, 18:00-19:00 EDT (Local Time)

Bob Luke discusses and signs copies of The Most Famous Woman in Baseball: Effa Manley and the Negro Leagues. Manley’s life played out against the backdrop of the Jim Crow years, when discrimination forced most of Newark’s blacks to live in the Third Ward, where prostitution flourished, housing was among the nation’s worst, and only menial jobs were available. Manley and the Eagles gave African Americans a haven, Ruppert Stadium. She was a force of nature—and, as Bob Luke shows, one to be reckoned with. From 1936 to 1948, she ran the Negro league Newark Eagles, which her husband, Abe, owned for roughly a decade. Because of her business acumen, commitment to her players, and larger-than-life personality, she would leave an indelible mark not only on baseball but also on American history.

For more information, click here.

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The Most Famous Woman in Baseball: Effa Manley and the Negro Leagues

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, United States, Women on 2011-10-18 22:14Z by Steven

The Most Famous Woman in Baseball: Effa Manley and the Negro Leagues

Potomac Books, Inc.
March 2011
256 pages
6″ x 9″; 26 B&W Images; Notes; Suggested Reading; Appendix; Index
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-59797-546-9

Bob Luke

Never one to mince words, Effa Manley once wrote a letter to sportswriter Art Carter, saying that she hoped they could meet soon because “I would like to tell you a lot of things you should know about baseball.”

From 1936 to 1948, Manley ran the Negro league Newark Eagles that her husband, Abe, owned for roughly a decade. Because of her business acumen, commitment to her players, and larger-than-life personality, she would leave an indelible mark not only on baseball but also on American history.

Attending her first owners’ meeting in 1937, Manley delivered an unflattering assessment of the league, prompting Pittsburgh Crawfords owner Gus Greenlee to tell Abe, “Keep your wife at home.” Abe, however, was not convinced, nor was Manley deterred. Like Greenlee, some players thought her too aggressive and inflexible. Others adored her. Regardless of their opinions, she dedicated herself to empowering them on and off the field. She meted out discipline, advice, and support in the form of raises, loans, job recommendations, and Christmas packages, and she even knocked heads with Branch Rickey, Bill Veeck, and Jackie Robinson.

Not only a story of Manley’s influence on the baseball world, The Most Famous Woman in Baseball vividly documents her social activism. Her life played out against the backdrop of the Jim Crow years, when discrimination forced most of Newark’s blacks to live in the Third Ward, where prostitution flourished, housing was among the nation’s worst, and only menial jobs were available. Manley and the Eagles gave African Americans a haven, Ruppert Stadium. She also proposed reforms at the Negro leagues’ team owners’ meetings, marched on picket lines, sponsored charity balls and benefit games, and collected money for the NAACP.

With vision, beauty, intelligence, discipline, and an acerbic wit, Manley was a force of nature—and, as Bob Luke shows, one to be reckoned with.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. The Lady Makes a Splash
  • 2. The Manleys Come to Baseball
  • 3. Abe Trades Brooklyn for Newark
  • 4. Effa Steps Up
  • 5. Effa Comes Into Her Own
  • 6. Fireworks
  • 7. Cobbling Together a Lineup
  • 8. War Comes to Newark
  • 9. The Eagles Adapt to the War
  • 10. Branch Rickey Drops the Color Bar
  • 11. A Reunited Team
  • 12. Striving for Respectability
  • 13. Effa’s Life After the Eagles
  • Epilogue
  • Appendix
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
  • Index
  • Suggested Readings
  • About the Author
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