Wednesday, March 01, 2006

It's About Damned Time:
Cooperstown Welcomes First Woman Into Hall of Fame

Baseball will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism. Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set. Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us.

- Walt Whitman

I'm a bad former sportswriter. Bad with a capital B.

I can't believe I almost let one of the biggest milestones in the 137-year history of professional baseball slip away without even a simple post.

Effa Manley was one of 17 Negro League legends elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame Monday, becoming the first woman ever to be elected in the hallowed halls of Cooperstown.

Manley was a co-owner of the Negro League's Newark Eagles from the club's founding in 1936 until the team disbanded in 1948, killed by the end of segregated baseball.

Today, baseball fans live in an era when just about every slugger in the game is suspected of using banned substances, a time when ball players are as overpaid as the owners willing to cut enormous checks to just about anyone who can catch.

Manley's induction into the Hall should serve as a reminder to fans everywhere that baseball, from Jim Thorpe to Jackie Robinson to Ichiro, is often bigger than itself when it comes to understanding what America really looks like when all the differences are stripped away like old paint from an outfield wall.

Sure, watching the Super Bowl can be exciting. But I'm sick of watching overpriced ads and aging rockers instead of a football game.

Hockey? Note to the NHL ... Call me when you become relevant again, on either side of the 49th Parallel.

With baseball, there's this sense of something historic, something immortal. Like a clutch hitter nailing that perfect pitch in the bottom of the ninth, timing is everything in baseball.

I can't think of a better time to finally enshrine a woman into the hallowed hall of Gehrig and Ruth, of Brooks Robinson and Honus Wagner.

Manley, known for her dedication to civil rights and the fair treatment of players, will now share baseball's Mount Olympus with the likes of Ty Cobb, Cap Anson, and scores of other players who, while amazing ballplayers, were rabid supporters of baseball's version of Jim Crow.

The timing?

I'd call electing a black woman to Cooperstown during a week that begins in Black History Month and ends in Women's History Month as close to perfection as any historic moment can get.

NewsHour with Jim Lehrer (Feb. 28, 2006 transcript)
National Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, NY (Press Release)
Effa Manley Bio (Negro League Baseball Players Association)

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Anonymous said...

Not really a sports fan, except for lacrosse and soccer to a degree because I either had friends or relatives who played both or played myself as with soccer. Neither of these are played at the coorporate levels in this country to the degree of football, baseball and hockey. I can get into college basketball though.

I think that a long time ago much sports in general were much more relevent than they are today .
Today sports is a lot of coorporate entities battling for the ad money...nothing more.

Thanks for noting her entry into the hall of fame. I would not have known about it otherwise.

cooper said...

that was me ....I haven't gotten the hang of not being on blogger yet.

A REAL Sports Fan said...

Dude this is so lame. Nothing like reading some asshole pushing his liberal garbage into sports. It is totally stupid to have an affirmative action in HOF voting. A bunch of dead people deserve to be in cooperstown because they're black? Please. There are more diserving players with better careers.

kristy said...

I so disagree with the last commenter. Like Cooper said, I appreciate you writing about it. Like Cooper, I too would never have known. Thanks.

The ZenFo Pro said...

I think a lot of people have ceased to be fans of any sport because of the over-marketing of athletics down to nothing more than advertising. Even soccer faces that problem worldwide; if it weren't for the fact that the best players come from the "unprofitable" Global South, soccer in the U.S. would have evolved into the same mess that defines other NA professional sports.

I think sports still plays a vital role, probably moreso for women these days. Many male athletes have the luxury of skipping college because they're good enough to make gobs of money playing a game. Female athletes don't have the same luxuries; for some women, the only way to get into a decent college is through lay-ups, fielding finesse, and the ability to win. And, from my experience, they tend to be some of the most dedicated student athletes, more studious than their male counterparts.

You've very welcome, chica :)

You know, I think its attitudes lke yours that makes all sports fans look like complete idiots. I wish I could be more polite, but my time is precious and I'm not going to mince words or play armchair athletics pundit.

I disagree with him/her as well. No problem, chica. I think this is something that's been ignored by most of the media as well.

You're welcome, as well :)

Smurf said...

This was very well written.