Charlie Grant

Second Base
  • Card series: Diamond Heads '15
  • City: Cincinnati
  • Team: Stars (IND)
  • League: Independent

Charles Grant Jr. (1874-1932) replaced Sol White at second base in 1896 when White left the Page Fence Giants, a move that came back to bite White’s Cuban X-Giants later that year when Grant’s team won the championship series 10 games to 5. Page Fence folded in ’99 and Charlie moved to the Columbia Giants of Chicago. But is wasn’t his prowess afield in the early Black leagues that brought Grant to the razor’s edge of history. The smooth-fielding youngster worked in a hotel in Hot Springs, AR in the off-seasons where John McGraw’s Orioles trained. McGraw, ever-voracious for talent, spied Grant playing pick-up games with co-workers and immediately judged him to be of major league caliber. The color-line was obdurate but McGraw seized on the ploy of passing Grant off as a Native American, even dubbing him “Tokohama” after a name he saw on the hotel’s map. The scheme almost worked. Sol White tells the story of how McGraw’s efforts to surreptitiously integrate the American League foundered when Baltimore went up to Chicago en route from spring training. Comiskey noticed that Grant’s friends in town had shown up to applaud him and even sent a bouquet. Outed, McGraw had to yield to the league’s segregation. White shared McGraw’s esteem for Grant’s ability: “I will give any ‘fan’ a good ten-cent cigar who will call my attention or, rather, recall my memory to an error on a ground ball or a muffed fly by Charley Grant.” His chance at national fame thwarted, Grant continued a very successful career in Black ball.

  • Never a strong hitter, Grant always earned his keep at second. He died tragically, struck by a car that had blown a tire. In death, this great player received a measure of the recognition of which he was deprived by baseball’s moguls. He is buried a short distance from Hall of Fame second-sacker Miller Huggins at Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati

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