Author Audrey Vernick was kind enough to answer a few questions about She Loved Baseball, the story of Effa Manley. The first woman inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame
1 How many baseball books did you read for research purposes?
I wrote this book so long ago I don't even remember! And I'd be hard pressed to distinguish which ones were really for research and which ones were just about baseball and kind of irresistible
Also, I relied more upon newspaper accounts and recorded interviews than books for this particular project. Though James Overmyer's QUEEN OF THE NEGRO LEAGUES was also a vital research resource.
2 One fact about Effa Manley or the game of baseball that you wished you were able to fit in the book?
There were so many! There was a great scene in which Effa Manley really gave it to Branch Rickey for raiding Negro League teams without any compensation. There were more Newark Eagles players in earlier versions--like Willie Wells, first player to wear a batting helmet (though his was more of a construction helmet). And the fact that Effa made such a lasting impression on her players; Larry Doby asked Effa and her husband, Abe, to be his child's godparents.
3 Picture book authors run the risk of be paired with an illustrator, whose style doesn't enchance the text. Thankfully that didn't happen to She Loved Baseball. Don Tate's illustrations are great and fit the text perfectly. When did you know you'd be paired with Tate?
Over a year after the manuscript was acquired! It took a long time to find the right person, and there were lots of people with lots of opinions involved in the decision-making process. But boy, how lucky was I? I can't imagine this text paired with any other art; Don Tate did a perfect job.
4 What is it about baseball fans and baseball books? ( I am not judging. I also get baseball book fever. Looking forward to reading The Baseball by Zack Hample)
I think that link makes sense. Baseball's a pretty cerebral sport, and watching baseball allows one's brain to roam a bit, time for thinking, considering.
5. Who is your favorite team? Any predictions for this season?
My team is the New York Yankees, despite the fact that I grew up in Queens, not far from the shadow of Shea Stadium. Predictions for this season? Mine is a house divided down the middle. My husband and daughter root for the Phillies. I have to admit, on paper, anyway, that their pitching rotation is nothing short of stunning. (Well, the first four. Sorry, Joe.) I don't know what to expect from my Yankees this year. A lot depends on A.J. Burnett which is a kind of chilling thought.
Audrey, thank you so much for your time. She Loved Baseball is such a wonderful book, I'll forgive for being a Yankees fan. Huffingtonpost on She Loved Baseball
Vernick first introduces us to a young Effa Brooks in first grade. Effa loved playing baseball with her brothers but wasn't allowed because she was a girl and was lighter in skin tone. In 1932 after finishing high school Effa moves from Philadelphia to New York City.
Upset by the unfair treatment of Blacks. Effa gets involved to make a difference. White store owners were refusing to hire Black workers.
"She organized the Citizens League for Fair Play, a group of community leaders. They urged Harlem's largest department store to hire black salesclerks. The owner said no. Nobody believed a group of Black people could change a White bussinessman's mind, but the league fought anyway. For weeks they marched in the street. They convinced their neighbors to shop elsewhere. The store lost money. But still no Black salesclerks. The league kept marching. Finally they won. Newspapers reported the boycotts success."
In 1935 Effa marries Abe Manley. The couple started the Brooklyn Eagles, in the newly formed Negro National League. Effa played a vital roll in the teams sucess, even after they moved to New Jersey in 1936. She always fought for the rights of her players. In 1970, decades after the end of the Negro Leagues, Effa Manley started a letter writing campaign to get some Baseball Hall of Fame to induct some of the best Negro League players.
When I finished this biography, (which I loved, in case that's not obvious) my first thought was why, am I just know hearing about Effa Manley. As much as I love baseball and its history, Effa Manley is someone who I should know. And now I do.
This was a serious trifecta for me. 1. A woman who loved baseball. 2. a woman who refused to be stop because of her gender or race 3. It bridges the gap between the Negro Leagues and Majors.
Two of the players on the Eagles last team were Monte Irvin and Larry Doby. * Vernick also seamlessly includes 1946 Negro League world series between, the Newwark Eagles and the Kansas City Monarchs. Vernick makes the reader feel the excitement of that last game in the series.
Don Tate's colors and style have a very open feel , making them a perfect fit for this story. Tate paid close attention to details from the clothes to the model of the bus the team used. Towards the end there's a close up of Effa Manley that's simply beautiful.
When I read that in 2006 Effa Manley was the first woman ever to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, I got a little choked up. Thanks to Vernick and Tate, they did such a great job telling Effa Manley's stories. This is a must read for baseball fans of all ages.