A League of Their Own director Penny Marshall plans to make her return to film with a biopic about Effa Manley, the first woman to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Effa is the first film in a two-part deal Marshall has with Studioplex City, and her first directing venture since 2001’s Riding in Cars with Boys.
Based on a screenplay by Byron Motley, the story will follow the managerial career of Manley as she rose through the ranks of the Negro National League in the 1930s and 40s as the co-owner of the Newark Eagles, a team that went on to win the 1946 Negro World Series. The film will tackle issues of both gender and race in the world of sports during this era. One could even consider Effa a successor to A League of Our Own, as that film briefly highlighted this tension in the short scene where an African-American woman picks up a stray ball and quickly tosses it back to the players, signifying how her race made her even more of an outsider.
Marshall has said “the story is a fascinating tale of a woman who broke through so many barriers and accomplished so much for the players and the game, during a time when the face of baseball changed forever.” Baseball– America’s sport– continues to be a popular topic in cinema: Moneyball, and 42 have enjoyed successful releases within the past three years, and Richard Linklater’s That’s What I’m Talking About is set for 2015. With the long standing praise Marshall’s first baseball film has enjoyed, Effa could be a story to look forward to.