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1959 Effa Manley TLS Written to Walter O'Malley
Starting Bid - $500.00, Sold For - $1,410.00
Significant rare one-page typed letter, dated January 17, 1959, signed by Effa Manley, the first woman ever to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, with a direct connection to the impending demise of the legendary Negro Leagues. In her letter, written to Walter O’Malley, president of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Manley negotiates on behalf of the Negro American Baseball League. In full: “Dear Mr. OMalley – First of all, thank you for giving me so much time yesterday. I realize how busy you are. As soon as I arrived home, I wrote Dr. Martin, asking him to contact you directly, to confirm the date for Mr. Bavasie [sic] visit to Chicago, to meet with the team owners, so that the meeting can be arranged. You asked me yesterday about my ideas for a working agreement with the Negro American League. My suggestion then was for a monthly payment from the Dodgers to each team, for the five or six months they play, in exchange for an option on any of the team members you wanted. My subsequent thinking, caused by a remark from you, that you wouldn’t want to wreck a team by taking its good man or men in mid season, made me wonder if the following idea is not a good one and fair. If the monthly amount was small (but enough to help) any time you saw a man you wanted, give the team an additional amount of cash. This would not only compensate, but would be a real inspiration for the owners to go all out in its search for talent. There is no doubt in my mind the program is very workable, and should be beneficial to all concerned. I do hope you hear from Dr. Martin right away, as Feb. 3 or 4th is a very short time off. Very Truly yours – Effa Manley Alexander. [signed].” Manley’s signature has been scripted in blue ink and grades “10.” Manley was not officially affiliated with the Negro American Baseball League at the time, but was negotiating for the owners at the behest of League president J. B. Martin. Unfortunately, Jackie Robinson’s breaking of the color barrier in 1947 sounded the death knell for the Negro Leagues. At the time of this letter the Negro American Baseball League was down to just four teams and struggling to survive. For that reason, Manley’s proposal probably made little financial sense for the Dodgers. O’Malley obviously didn’t want to be bothered with the matter any more, a fact evidenced by the handwritten note at the top of the page: “Buzzie [sic] please act – your problem from now on – Us.” Buzzy Bavasi was the general manager of the Dodgers at the time. Accompanying the letter are a two-page typed letter (dated August 11, 1958) and one-page typed letter (dated September 16, 1958), both on Negro American Baseball League letterhead, written to Manley from Dr. J. B. Martin, president of the League. The first letter responds to a proposal from Manley regarding the recruitment of Negro League players by Major League clubs. The second letter authorizes Manley to negotiate with Major League officials on behalf of the Negro American League. Each letter is signed “J. B. Martin” in blue ink (grading “10”). Effa Manley entered the world of baseball in 1936 by virtue of her marriage to Abe Manley, owner of the Newark Eagles. Abe appointed Effa to run the team's business affairs and during the next ten years she became a strong advocate for both player's rights and civil rights. In addition to her baseball duties, Manley was also treasurer of the Newark chapter of the NAACP and often used the team to promote civic causes. In 1946, following the death of her husband, she assumed total control of the team. During the next two years she fought vigorously against the raiding of her players by Major League clubs. This, however, was a losing battle. After the loss of top stars such as Larry Doby, Don Newcombe, and Monte Irvin, she eventually disbanded the club in 1948. Manley passed away in 1981, at which time she was believed to be the last surviving owner of a Negro League baseball team. On her tombstone is the simple epitaph "She Loved Baseball." In 2006 she became the first woman ever inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Manley letter (8.5 x 11 inches) displays normal mailing folds and two staple holes (Ex). The two Martin letters (8.5 x 11 inches) are in similar condition; however, the one-page letter also displays two light stains. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000+. SOLD FOR $1,410.00
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