Dave Wyatt Charlie Grant
If true, the following story answers some questions I raised at the end of this post about the Tokohama affair. In a 1910 article in The Freeman, the longtime Chicago sportswriter (and former teammate of Rube Foster and others) Dave Wyatt wrote that he and Charlie Grant concocted the plan to get Grant into the major leagues. Here are his own words, from his column “Notes of the Managers and Players” (Indianapolis Freeman, February 19, 1910). Unfortunately, my copy is unreadable after scanning; if I can get over to Chapel Hill soon I will try to get something better.
By DAVID WYATT.
[Charley] Grant was one of our greatest baseball players. Some years ago he accompanied the writer to Hot Springs, where we hatched a plan to better the condition of colored players. I placed the same before McGraw, whom I knew personally. After considering things, McGraw said that he could probably get Grant into the League as an Indian. I told Grant of the decision, but it did not appeal to him as right. After seeing Grant perform “Mac” became all enthused, and insisted upon us hunting up some long Indian name to be used. We manufactured one—Grant-a-muscogee. This made a hit with McGraw, but in the meantime some newspaper man had got “hep” to us and sent the news broadcast that the Indian find’s name was Tokohoma. The idea that McGraw did not know Grant was a colored man is all bosh; the writer arranged the whole plan, and McGraw stuck to his word all the way through until the colored players and patrons of the game worked up so much sentiment that Ban Johnson took a hand. McGraw was one of the most loyal men I ever saw. McGraw told Johnson that it was a shame for a man to be barred from baseball on account of color, and he actually wept when he could go no further with Grant. In justice to Grant, I will say that at no time did he want to pass as anything but a colored player. There were a half dozen players on the Baltimore club then who knew Grant personally; two of them were Mike Donlin and Roger Bresnahan. George Rohe was raised up with him in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Jimmie Burke knew him well. All these agreed to play dumb, and they carried out the part. It was left to players with whom he had associated for years to have him turned down.
Lucius C. Harper remembered this story in 1942 for his column “Dustin’ Off the News” (Chicago Defender, August 8, 1942, p. 1), adding a number of key details:
I haven’t been able to substantiate the supposed incident at White Stocking Park in Chicago. The first time Baltimore and Chicago met in 1901 was in Chicago in late May, well after Tokohama’s identity as Grant had been exposed. There’s no indication in the Tribune that Grant was present at the games (though he was in Chicago at the time, according to the Washington Post), nor was there any mention of the Tokohama affair. If something like Tom Evans’s on-field confrontation with Grant took place, maybe it was at a spring training or exhibition game, whether in Hot Springs or elsewhere.
Pete Burns had indeed been Grant’s teammate on the Columbia Giants just the previous year (1900).
Images above are from Sol White’s Official Base Ball Guide (1907).
UPDATE 4/23/2009 Here’s the Washington Post from May 28, 1901: “Tokohoma, McGraw’s alleged Indian, is in Chicago, but will not accompany the team. Why not?” On second thought, maybe something did happen in Chicago, though Grant had in reality been exposed about two months earlier. Keep in mind that McGraw, locked in a struggle with Ban Johnson, was apparently quite persistent about Grant.