1901 | HOT SPRINGS, ARKANSAS – Arrogant, ornery and extremely successful Baltimore Orioles manager John McGraw attempted to pull one over on the rest of major league baseball on this date in 1901.
The problem wasn’t that Tokohoma was a Native American, the problem was, he was Black.
According to the Cincinnati Enquirer McGraw tried to sign Charlie Tokohoma, a Cherokee Indian, to a major league contract. McGraw first saw him working as a bellhop at a Hot Springs, Arkansas hotel during spring training. The problem wasn’t that Tokohoma was a Native American, the problem was, he was Black.
By this time a well entrenched “gentgralemen’s agreement” dictated that no team would sign Black players.
Several sources including James A. Riley, author of The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues says Chicago White Sox owner Charles Comiskey, the gentleman that he was, let the cat out of the bag. He recognized “Tokohoma” as Charlie Grant, second baseman for the Columbia Giants, a Chicago based Negro Leagues team.
For a few weeks, McGraw insisted that Tokohoma (Grant) was Native American, and had him in the lineup for a few spring training games, but Grant never saw regular season major league action.