Interview with Effa Manley, October 19, 1977

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:29 - Early organization of Negro League baseball

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Partial Transcript: Well, uh, uh, my husband was the one who really became interested in the baseball.

Segment Synopsis: Manley discusses early attempts to organize Negro League baseball, including those of her husband, Abe Manley, and of Rube Foster.

Keywords: Abe Manley; Brooklyn Eagles; Dodgers; Negro National League; Organization of negro leagues; Rube Foster

Subjects: Brooklyn Dodgers (Baseball Team); Ebbets Field (New York, N.Y.); Negro leagues; Newark Eagles (Baseball Team)

00:03:04 - Abe Manley's affinity for baseball

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Partial Transcript: We also talked a little bit about why your husband owned the team. I mean, he just became interested quite suddenly.

Segment Synopsis: Manley discusses her husband's affinity for Negro League baseball and the Philadelphia or Darby Hilldales. She also gives her thoughts on the abilities of African American athletes.

Keywords: "Negros"; Abe Manley; Athletic ability; Baseball fans; Hilldales

Subjects: African American athletes; Baseball; Negro leagues

00:04:23 - Effa Manley's role as business manager of Newark Eagles

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Partial Transcript: You had, then, um, a great deal to do with the ball club as far as its operation is concerned, and how did this come about?

Segment Synopsis: Manley discusses the management of the Newark Eagles and her role as business manager. She talks briefly about her acceptance as a woman within the Negro National League. She also mentions her reaction to Jackie Robinson's and Don Newcombe's departure from the Negro National League.

Keywords: Abe Manley; Acceptance of women; Carrie Jacobs; Eddison Thomas; Education; Equipment; Eric Ellidge; Management of Newark Eagles; Renaissance "negro" basketball team; Spring training

Subjects: Baseball--Management; Major League Baseball (Organization); Manley, Effa, 1897-1981; Negro National League; Negro leagues; Newark Eagles (Baseball Team); Newcombe, Donald; Robinson, Jackie, 1919-1972

00:10:13 - Branch Rickey's recruitment of Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, and Don Newcombe

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Partial Transcript: Uh, after Mr. Rickey did what he did, was when I really started talking a little bit. I mean, when, when, now when he took, you know he took those three...

Segment Synopsis: Manley shares her feelings on Branch Rickey's recruitment of Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, and Don Newcombe. She talks briefly about Major League baseball's reluctance to accept African American players or Negro League teams. She also touches on baseball records.

Keywords: African American athletic ability; Baseball records; Farm League

Subjects: African American athletes; African American baseball players; Campanella, Roy, 1921-1993.; Major League Baseball (Organization); Newcombe, Donald; Pitchers (Baseball); Rickey, Branch, 1881-1965; Robinson, Jackie, 1919-1972

00:12:20 - The birth of the Negro American League / competition between the Negro National League and the Negro American League

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Partial Transcript: Now you mentioned before the organization of, um the two leagues that primarily the negro ball clubs were, um, working through booking agents.

Segment Synopsis: Manley discusses the beginnings of the Negro American League and how competitive it was with the Negro National League. She talks about the 1946 Newark Eagles team and the Negro League World Series.

Keywords: 1946 Newark Eagles; Abe Manley; Booking agents; Dr. Martin; East-West all-star game; Negro League World Series; Pat Patterson; Schedules

Subjects: Baseball; Irvin, Monte, 1919-; Negro American League.; Negro National League; Negro leagues; Newark Eagles (Baseball Team); Rickey, Branch, 1881-1965

00:16:44 - Salaries, scouting, rosters, and contracts

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Partial Transcript: What are we talking about as far as salaries are concerned? Let's say, in the '40's.

Segment Synopsis: Manley describes the average salary for Newark Eagles players and Abe Manley's role in deciding them. She talks about the informality of scouting for the Negro Leagues. She also notes that every Newark Eagles' player had a legally binding contract.

Keywords: Abe Manley; Contracts; Frank Mathis; Pat Patterson; Rookies; Rosters; Salaries; Scouting

Subjects: African American baseball players; Baseball players--Salaries, etc.--United States; Doby, Larry; Negro National League; Negro leagues; Newark Eagles (Baseball Team)

00:22:53 - Traveling conditions for Newark Eagles players / Manley's friendship with Joe Lewis

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Partial Transcript: What, um, were the road conditions like for the ball players? I'm sure that since you didn't travel with them, but you heard a lot of stories, I mean sure.

Segment Synopsis: Manley describes the conditions of the hotels where Negro National League players stayed. She states that they were adequate and not as bad as others described them. She describes how she and her husband stayed with the team in "colored" hotels. She describes an incident in which Joe Lewis gave her his suite and stayed with friends, also mentioning her friendship with Lewis.

Keywords: "colored" hotels; Abe Manley; Hotel accommodations; Hotels; Joe Lewis; Negro National League players; Women in baseball

Subjects: African American baseball players; African Americans--Social conditions; Baseball players; Negro National League

00:25:45 - The integration of Major League Baseball / Monte Irvin as a candidate for breaking the "color line" / competing for players with the Mexican League

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Partial Transcript: ...Now he was the boy, had the negro, had the owners of the negro teams been asked who to break down the prejudice...

Segment Synopsis: Manley discusses the integration of Major League baseball. She describes the agreement among Negro League team owners that Monte Irvin was a good candidate to break the "color line" in Major League baseball. Marshall mentions that there were reports of Monte Irvin's reluctance to be the first African American in Major League baseball. Manley also discusses the Mexican League's taking Negro League players, including Ray Dandridge and Satchel Paige. She shares an anecdote about Satchel Paige's crush on her.

Keywords: 1944; Gus Greenlee; Homestead Grays; Integration of Major League baseball; Joe Williams; Mexican League; Salaries; Salary negotiations

Subjects: Baseball team owners; Dandridge, Ray; Integration; Irvin, Monte, 1919-; Liga Mexicana de Beisbol Profesional; Major League Baseball (Organization)--History; Negro leagues; Paige, Satchel, 1906-1982; Rickey, Branch, 1881-1965; Robinson, Jackie, 1919-1972; Washington Homestead Grays (Baseball Team)

00:33:09 - Negro league baseball forgotten

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Partial Transcript: One time they had Newcombe on with me, prime time on the big channels...

Segment Synopsis: Manley expresses her distress that "black baseball" has been forgotten. She also tells of the difficulty she had in finding a publisher for her book, Negro Baseball Before Integration. She attributes that difficulty to the epilogue's detailed outline of every Major League baseball record that was broken by an African American baseball player.

Keywords: "Smokey Joe" Williams; African American businesspeople; Baseball records; Books; Negro Baseball Before Integration (Book); Publishers; Reggie Jackson

Subjects: African American baseball players; Manley, Effa, 1897-1981; Negro leagues.

00:35:41 - Attitudes of Negro League baseball players / the Newark Eagles' acquisition of Pat Patterson

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Partial Transcript: There was no such thing as dissatisfaction on the team. The boys, honest to god, were not working, they were, they loved it.

Segment Synopsis: Manley asserts that trades were uncommon in the Negro League because there was no dissatisfaction among players. She does discuss the trade of Murray Watkins for Pat Patterson, describing Patterson as a wonderful player. She also describes how skeptical the fans were about this trade.

Keywords: Abe Manley; Attitude; Baseball fans; Baseball trades; Dissatisfaction; Murray Watkins; Pat Patterson; Salaries; Trades

Subjects: African American baseball players; Baseball players--Salaries, etc.--United States; Negro leagues

00:38:38 - Winter employment for Negro League players

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Partial Transcript: The first year we had the team, 1935, I was very unhappy about the boys not having any work in the winter.

Segment Synopsis: Manley discusses her role in creating opportunities for Negro League baseball players to play in Puerto Rico and Cuba during the winter months. She also asserts that, aside from Pat Patterson, very few players had winter employment outside of baseball.

Keywords: Brooklyn Eagles; Employment; Off-season; Pat Patterson; Puerto Rico; Winter; Winter ball

Subjects: African American baseball players; Baseball players; Cuba.; Irvin, Monte, 1919-; National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.; Negro leagues; Newark Eagles (Baseball Team)

00:41:49 - The story behind a 1938 photograph of Effa Manley in the dugout

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Partial Transcript: How often did, uh, did you meet as owners? In other words...

Segment Synopsis: Manley tells the story behind the famous 1938 photo of her wearing a cap and jacket in the Newark Eagles' dugout.

Keywords: New York Evening News; New York Post; women in baseball

Subjects: Manley, Effa, 1897-1981; Newark Eagles (Baseball Team); Women

00:46:49 - Baseball and rationing during World War II

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Partial Transcript: Let me switch to, uh, World War II. And, uh, as I understand it, there were around...

Segment Synopsis: Manley discusses the effects that World War II had on baseball, including the African American players' willingness to volunteer for military service. Effa Manley's war efforts are also discussed, specifically her role on the Gasoline Rationing Panel.

Keywords: African American soldiers; Baseball during World War II; Effa Manley; Gasoline Rationing Panel; Gasoline rationing

Subjects: African American baseball players; Baseball; Manley, Effa, 1897-1981; Rationing--United States; World War, 1939-1945.

00:50:53 - Reasons for Major League baseball's banning of African American players

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Partial Transcript: What, in your estimation, uh, you mentioned just recently--just now--that it was kind of accepted that the majors didn't want blacks to play in their midst.

Segment Synopsis: This lengthy section provides insight from both Marshall and Manley on some of the explanations for Major League baseball's refusal to accept African American players. These include fear that African Americans would break white players' records, distaste for African American fans, and a reluctance to take players from Negro League teams. Manley gives her opinion that everyone had just accepted that there would be two leagues, one black and one white.

Keywords: African American baseball fans; African American baseball players; African Americans and alcohol; Baseball records; East-West games; Reggie Jackson; increased security

Subjects: African American baseball players; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Sports; Major League Baseball (Organization); Major League Baseball (Organization)--History; Newark Eagles (Baseball Team); Ruth, Babe, 1895-1948.

01:00:28 - Abe and Effa Manley's departure from the Negro Leagues / trading Monte Irvin to the Giants

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Partial Transcript: The integration took place in '46, and I begged Abe to, in '47, to quit.

Segment Synopsis: Manley describes her and her husband's exit from the Negro Leagues, including how they spent large sums of money to continue after integration, and how they sold the team. She discusses trading Monte Irvin to the Giants in detail.

Keywords: Dr. Young; Integration in Major League baseball; Jerry Tesler (??); Signing; Western League

Subjects: Integration; Irvin, Monte, 1919-; Major League Baseball (Organization); Manley, Effa, 1897-1981; Negro leagues; New York Giants (Baseball Team); New York Yankees (Baseball Team); Newark Eagles (Baseball Team); Newcombe, Donald; Rickey, Branch, 1881-1965

01:05:57 - The establishment of the United States Baseball League / Branch Rickey's taking of Negro League players

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Partial Transcript: Let's, let's go back to 1945. Um, that's the year Branch Rickey set up what he called his United States Baseball League.

Segment Synopsis: Manley describes her reaction to Branch Rickey's announcement of the creation of the United States Baseball League, at a meeting that she attended. She talks about the reaction of the Negro League team owners and their decision to ensure that Rickey's league could not play on their fields, in hopes of preventing its success. She also describes Rickey's strategy of taking the players from the American and National Negro Leagues instead.

Keywords: Attorney Shackleford; Dr. Martin; Negro National League; Tom Wilson; United States Baseball League

Subjects: African American baseball team owners; Baseball players; Baseball team owners; Manley, Effa, 1897-1981; Negro American League.; Negro leagues; Rickey, Branch, 1881-1965

01:11:16 - Hardships faced by the United States Baseball League

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Partial Transcript: But I don't think he ever got the cooperation of our established Negro League teams.

Segment Synopsis: Manley discusses why the United States Baseball League was unsuccessful.

Keywords: Ball parks; Baseball parks; United States Baseball League

Subjects: African American baseball players; African American baseball team owners; Baseball team owners; Negro leagues; Rickey, Branch, 1881-1965

01:13:13 - Manley's relationship with Branch Rickey and booking agents

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Partial Transcript: You said you had some really, pretty good relationships with the Dodgers and with Branch Rickey.

Segment Synopsis: Manley discusses her and her husband's professional relationship with Branch Rickey before, during, and after he tried to start the United States Baseball League. She also discusses her and her husband's differing opinions on the role of booking agents in Negro League baseball.

Keywords: Abe Manley; Booking agents; Farm system in baseball; Integration of Major League baseball; Only the Ball was White (Book); United States Baseball League

Subjects: African American baseball players; Integration; Major League Baseball (Organization); Manley, Effa, 1897-1981; Negro leagues; Rickey, Branch, 1881-1965

01:19:18 - Chandler's commissionership / Jackie Robinson's tryouts for the Major Leagues / Minor League Baseball

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Partial Transcript: Also in 1945, while we're talking about that year, that's the year that Happy Chandler became Commissioner of Baseball...

Segment Synopsis: Manley talks about her indifference to Happy Chandler's position as commissioner of Major League baseball. She also talks about Jackie Robinson and other players' tryouts for Major League baseball teams in 1945. She describes her failed attempt to speak to the president of Minor League baseball in 1944 about integrating the Minor Leagues.

Keywords: Baseball presidents; Joe Bostic; Sam Jethro; Sam Lacy

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991; Integration; Major League Baseball (Organization); Minor league baseball.; Negro leagues; Robinson, Jackie, 1919-1972

01:23:18 - Superiority of Negro League baseball players to modern (1977) Major League players

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Partial Transcript: And I'll tell you something else; honest to God, I feel like our ball players were so superior to the present days ones so it's not even funny.

Segment Synopsis: Manley expresses her belief that, because of their skill and their love of the game, Negro League players were far better baseball players than the current (1977) Major League players.

Keywords: "satisfied"; Hank Aaron; Joe Morgan; Reggie Jackson

Subjects: African American baseball players; Baseball; Baseball players; Major League Baseball (Organization); Negro leagues

01:26:13 - Reaction to Jackie Robinson's signing by Branch Rickey / advocacy for the hiring of African American salesclerks at Blumstein's Department Store

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Partial Transcript: Let, Let's move on to next year, 1946. Um, and that was the year, of course, that Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson.

Segment Synopsis: Manley briefly describes her reaction to Jackie Robinson's signing to play Major League baseball. She discusses at length her work to pressure Blumstein's Department Store in Harlem to hire African American salesclerks.

Keywords: African American employment; African American salesclerks; Blumstein's Department Store; Citizen's League for Fair Play; Reverend John H. Johnson

Subjects: African Americans.; Integration; Major League Baseball (Organization)--History; Manley, Effa, 1897-1981; Robinson, Jackie, 1919-1972

01:31:11 - Manley's family history and connection with the African American community

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Partial Transcript: Now, I got to tell you my story, because I know you're looking at me and looking at Abe's picture and, you know, you're wondering what in the hell is my story.

Segment Synopsis: Manley shares her family history and the reason for her deep connection to the African American community. She tells how she was raised "as a negro", and describes her social circle as an adult as being made up almost entirely of African Americans.

Keywords: "Negroes"; Bertha Ford; Family; Interracial relations; John Marcus Bishop; Siblings

Subjects: African Americans; Interracial marriage; Manley, Effa, 1897-1981

01:36:46 - Jackie Robinson's signing / the downfall of Negro Leagues

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Partial Transcript: With this, this background in, in, in mind, then having, you know, always been...

Segment Synopsis: Manley reacts to the signing of Jackie Robinson, especially through the lens of her upbringing in an African American community, and as part-owner of a Negro League team. She talks about traveling as a white woman, although she considers herself to be part of the African American community. She also touches again on the strengths of Monte Irvin.

Keywords: Integration of Major League baseball; Interracial relations; Racial segregation; Traveling

Subjects: Brooklyn Dodgers (Baseball Team); Irvin, Monte, 1919-; Major League Baseball (Organization); Manley, Effa, 1897-1981; Negro leagues; Rickey, Branch, 1881-1965; Robinson, Jackie, 1919-1972; Segregation

01:42:47 - Commissioner Chandler and Branch Rickey's roles in the integration of Major League baseball

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Partial Transcript: Let, let me go back a little bit. Again, Commissioner Chandler did have a role in Robinson's signing.

Segment Synopsis: Manley expresses her belief that Happy Chandler could not have stopped the integration of Major League Baseball, even if he had wished to. Marshall asks about Rickey's speech asking African Americans not to "spoil" Jackie Robinson, and Manley reacts to this with surprise.

Keywords: Branch Rickey; Branch Rickey as a person; Integration of Major League Baseball; Mexican League

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991; Irvin, Monte, 1919-; Liga Mexicana de Beisbol Profesional; Major League Baseball (Organization); New York Yankees (Baseball Team); Rickey, Branch, 1881-1965; Robinson, Jackie, 1919-1972

01:46:21 - Manley's perceptions of Jackie Robinson / Robinson's experiences in Major League baseball

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Partial Transcript: How, how well did you know Jackie Robinson, if at all?

Segment Synopsis: Manley gives her impressions of Jackie Robinson, though she states that she never met him. She expresses her opinions about the abilities of African Americans to conduct successful business enterprises and to make music. She describes what she heard about Jackie Robinson's treatment by white baseball players and fans. She describes Robinson's temper, as it was rumored.

Keywords: Benjamin Chapman; Ink Spots; Music; Racial Integration; Rumors

Subjects: African American athletes; African American baseball players; African American business enterprises; Integration; Philadelphia Phillies (Baseball Team); Robinson, Jackie, 1919-1972; St. Louis Cardinals (Baseball Team)

01:50:21 - Don Newcombe, Monte Irvin, and Larry Doby's entrance into the Major Leagues

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Partial Transcript: You, uh, there was another player that was signed at the same time, that...

Segment Synopsis: Manley describes three Negro League players who switched to Major League baseball shortly after Jackie Robinson did. She tells the story of how she met Don Newcombe the day before spring training. She describes Newcombe's rough start in baseball as a pitcher and Branch Rickey's role in Newcombe's development as a player. She describes the recruitment of Larry Doby by Bill Veeck and the negotiations related to Doby's exit from the Newark Eagles.

Keywords: Abe Manley; Johnny Wright

Subjects: African American baseball players; Baseball players; Doby, Larry; Integration; Irvin, Monte, 1919-; Newark Eagles (Baseball Team); Newcombe, Donald; Pitchers (Baseball); Rickey, Branch, 1881-1965; Veeck, Bill; World War, 1939-1945

01:57:32 - Larry Doby's career and personality / Leon Day

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Partial Transcript: When did, when did Doby join the team, the Eagles? He was a second baseman, with you, wasn't he?

Segment Synopsis: Manley describes Larry Doby as both a player and person. She describes her relationship with Larry Doby, as well as her role as his son's godmother. She also mentions Leon Day.

Keywords: Career; Godmothers; Personality

Subjects: Baseball players; Day, Leon; Doby, Larry

02:03:02 - Negro baseball players in the Baseball Hall of Fame

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Partial Transcript: Publicity has always seemed to be around me for some reason. And now, I, this, this, um, sporting news story...

Segment Synopsis: Manley talks about her campaign to have Negro League baseball players commemorated on a plaque in the Baseball Hall of Fame. She talks about Roy Campanella's reluctance or inability to advocate for the plaque. She discusses her disagreement with the disbanding of the Committee on Negro Ball Players, and expresses her feelings that their job was not done.

Keywords: "Campy"; Baseball Hall of Fame; Biz Mackey; Committee on Negro Ball Players; Dick Lundy; Plaques

Subjects: African American baseball players; Baseball players; Campanella, Roy, 1921-1993.; National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.; Negro leagues

02:08:23 - Collaboration with Spink, editor of The Sporting News

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Partial Transcript: Now the ace in the hole that I've got is the sports...

Segment Synopsis: Manley describes her correspondence with a member of the Spink family who was the editor of The Sporting News in 1977. She describes what she wants from the Baseball Hall of Fame. She also describes the style of playing that made Negro League baseball players special in her eyes.

Keywords: Baseball Hall of Fame; Editors; Playing style; Spink; The Sporting News

Subjects: African American baseball players; Baseball players; National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.; Newspapers

02:12:11 - Challenges for Negro League baseball after Major League baseball's integration

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Partial Transcript: ...Okay. Um, after Robinson was signed you started having difficulty drawing people to the, to the...

Segment Synopsis: Manley describes her feelings about selling the Newark Eagles and the collapse of Negro League baseball. She discusses her husband's decision to continue with the Newark Eagles for two seasons after the Major Leagues were integrated.

Keywords: Abe Manley; Art Rust; Minor leagues

Subjects: Cleveland Indians (Baseball Team); Major League Baseball (Organization); Minor league baseball.; Negro leagues; Newark Eagles (Baseball Team); Paige, Satchel, 1906-1982; Segregation

02:15:28 - Life after the sale of the Newark Eagles

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Partial Transcript: What, what did you and your husband do after the team folded?

Segment Synopsis: Manley describes her husband's failing health after the Newark Eagles folded. She wonders if the selling of the team had anything to do with his health. She describes his health conditions and the circumstances of his death.

Keywords: Abe Manley; Death; Health; Health conditions; Illness; death of Abe Manley

Subjects: Manley, Effa, 1897-1981; Newark Eagles (Baseball Team)

02:18:56 - Credit for organizing Negro League baseball / a scrapbook about Negro League baseball

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Partial Transcript: He, He's giving a lot of credit, maybe is one reason I'm so happy about it. He's giving a great deal of credit...

Segment Synopsis: Manley describes many of the newspaper clippings, magazine articles, and books about Negro League baseball that she has collected.

Keywords: Abe Manley; Scrapbooks

Subjects: Baseball; Manley, Effa, 1897-1981; Negro leagues

02:25:19 - Negotiations with Bill Veeck over Larry Doby

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Partial Transcript: My conversation with Bill Veeck the day he called and said he wanted Doby, the last thing I said to him after he said if he kept him...

Segment Synopsis: Manley describes her conversation with Bill Veeck about Larry Doby's compensation. She also expresses her disbelief that Negro League players were unprepared to play in the Major Leagues. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Compensation

Subjects: African American baseball players; Baseball players; Doby, Larry; Major League Baseball (Organization); Manley, Effa, 1897-1981; Negro leagues; Veeck, Bill