Rosen: Cincinnati player came close to breaking baseball’s color line

From Steven Rosen at on April 18, 2015:

Cincinnati could have played a key role in the integration of Major League Baseball. It could have had a hometown hero who changed sports history – its own Jackie Robinson, perhaps – if only Charlie Grant had gotten into a game in the 1901 Major Leagues, as Baltimore Orioles Manager John McGraw wanted.

But the “color line” that barred blacks from baseball was just too strong, and McGraw’s plan to sneak the native-Cincinnatian, African-American Grant into baseball as an American Indian known as “Tokohama” fell apart before he could ever play. As it was, it still ranks as one of the baseball’s most audacious if least-known conspiracies.

Brian McKenna, writing for the Society for American Baseball Research, found that Charles Grant Jr., the son of Charles and Mary Grant, was born in Winton Place. McKenna found several possible birth dates in the 1870s, but a copy of Grant’s death certificate – provided by the Baseball Hall of Fame – lists Aug. 1, 1874.

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Originally published: April 19, 2015. Last Updated: April 19, 2015.