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Mon, 08.31.1874

Charles Grant Jr., Baseball player born

Charles Grant Jr.

*Charles Grant Jr. was born on this date in 1874. He was a Black baseball player in Negro League baseball before the formal league was created.  Grant was born in Cincinnati, the son of an African American horse trainer, Charles Grant, and his mother, Mary. 

A good fielder, Grant was of "medium height," weighed approximately 160 pounds, and hit right-handed.  Charlie Grant joined the Page Fence Giants in 1896.  Grant and Page Fence defeated White's new team, the Cuban X-Giants, ten games to five to win an 1896 championship series played in various southern Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio towns.  Page Fence disbanded in 1899, and Grant moved with most players to the Columbia Giants of Chicago.  He also played with the Columbia Giants for at least one season.  

After spending 1900 with Columbia, Grant worked as a bellhop at the Eastman Hotel in Hot Springs, Arkansas, in March 1901. John McGraw and the new American League's Baltimore Orioles began training in Hot Springs and staying at the Eastland that season.  McGraw saw Grant playing baseball with his co-workers around the hotel and recognized that Grant had a talent suitable for the major leagues. McGraw disguised the light-skinned, straight-haired Grant as a Cherokee and gave him the name Charlie Tokohama, anecdotally after noticing a creek named "Tokohama" on a map in the hotel.

McGraw's scheme began unraveling when the team traveled to Chicago, where Grant had played for the previous few years. His black friends staged a conspicuous ceremony celebrating Grant's return, including a flower bouquet.  Chicago White Sox President Charles Comiskey soon objected to "Tokohama" and affirmed that he was Grant.  Grant maintained his disguise, claiming that his father was white and his mother was Cherokee, living in Lawrence, Kansas.  McGraw initially persisted but later claimed that "Tokohama" was inexperienced, especially on defense, and left him off his Opening Day roster.

Grant returned to the Columbia Giants and never played in the major leagues. Grant played for the Cuban X-Giants in 1903.   After Sol White's Philadelphia Giants were defeated in the 1903 "colored championship," White overhauled the team, including hiring Charlie Grant.  In 1905, Grant and the Giants won the championship. He also played for the Fe club in 1906.  He later played for the Lincoln Giants, Quaker Giants, New York Black Sox, and Cincinnati Stars, the last playing in 1916.  

Grant's 1918 military registration card lists his home address as 802 Blair Avenue in Cincinnati, Ohio, and his birth date as August 31, 1877, three years later than his accepted birth date. His mother is listed as a contact at the same address, and his employed as a "janitor" at the same address as his home through a company called "Thomas Emery and Sons."  

On July 9, 1932, Grant was killed while sitting in front of a Cincinnati apartment building where he worked as a janitor. A passing automobile hit him after its tire exploded.  Grant was buried in Spring Grove Cemetery, and his grave is a short distance from fellow second baseman, Baseball Hall of Fame member Miller Huggins.  

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