Paul Wendt has unearthed much new material on the Tokohama affair. The earliest item Paul has found so far is from the Baltimore Sun, March 11, 1901, and it identifies Charlie Grant as…“the Cherokee Indian player Grant”:
Paul notes that the wording seems to imply that readers were already familiar with Grant, though he couldn’t find an earlier reference (it could have been in a different edition of the paper that hasn’t been preserved).
Then on March 16 the Sun published the following:
This is a version of the piece the Chicago Tribune would publish on March 24; both are likely versions of some longer original. The Tokohama name and cover story would seem to have been concocted between March 11 and March 16; apparently the Sun’s editors, along with McGraw or somebody else on the Orioles, forgot that Grant’s name had already been printed (or hoped readers would forget).
On March 30 the Sun would publish this about McGraw’s reaction to the rumors of Tokohama’s real identity:
Interestingly, McGraw tried to exploit the confusion between Charlie Grant and Frank Grant; by proving that Charlie was not the well-known Frank Grant, he hoped also to prove he wasn’t black. As for Frank being “rather short” and “stout,” while Charlie was “tall and raw-boned”: for whatever it’s worth, in the March 16 Sun piece Charlie Grant is said to be 5’8”, 175, while Frank Grant was, according to Riley, 5’7 1/2”, 155.
(Frank Grant, by the way, was at this time still in Cuba with the Cuban X Giants, and would remain there at least through April 9.) (Grant was in Cuba in 1900, not 1901.)
As late as April 11, the Baltimore Sun was running items that seemed to indicate that Grant was expected to join the team in Baltimore any day now, although the Chicago Tribune (April 7) had Grant already with the Columbia Giants.
The Milwaukee Daily News (March 29, 1901) printed this brief item:
“Tokohama, the Indian ball player signed for the Baltimore American league team, is Charley Grant, second baseman of the Columbia Giants, probably the best team of colored players in the country.”
Paul points out that there is no direct suggestion here that Grant is black; you could read it as saying that Grant/Tokohama was an Indian player with a “colored” team.
Then, from the April 1 Milwaukee Daily News, what purports to be an explicit denial of Grant’s blackness by Grant himself:
And from the April 9 Milwaukee Daily News:
“Tokahome [sic], the Cherokee Indian, will play with the Columbian Giants again this year. When it became known that McGraw’s find was not a full-blooded Indian he was informed that he was not wanted. He will act as manager of the Giants this season.”
Again, in Paul’s words, “no suggestion [Grant] is not Indian”; it’s his lack of “full-blooded” status that is supposed to explain his release. Significantly, despite the passive construction, the release is attributed to McGraw alone, not to any league action or pressure. But, as I noted in this post, as late as mid-May McGraw was apparently still trying to get Grant for the Orioles. Paul also pointed out that all this was going on at the same time as McGraw’s battle with Ban Johnson, and Johnson’s suspension of McGraw for “rowdyism” and umpire-baiting. In fact the May 19 Tribune item, “McGraw Wants His Indian,” actually appeared just below an article about McGraw’s troubles with the league. It seems quite likely the Tokohama affair was not unrelated to the larger context of the American League vs. McGraw.
Thanks to Paul Wendt for all this great material!
UPDATE 9/16/2009 Edited to correct mistake about Frank Grant’s whereabouts in 1901.