Charlie “Tokahama” Grant’s was discovered while playing a casual game of baseball with his fellow bellhops and waiters at the Eastland Hotel Resort in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
He had played in the Negro Leagues for the Page Fence Giants and subsequently the Columbia Giants. It happened that the Baltimore Orioles were staying at the hotel for spring training when Grant caught the eye of the manager, John J. McGraw, who was searching for new players. At the time, there was a “gentlemen’s agreement” in the major league that teams would not hire black players.
Because Charlie Grant happened to have fairly light skin, McGraw circumvented this rule by renaming him Charlie Tokahama and claiming that he was a Cherokee Indian instead of black, a plot with which Grant went along. McGraw was initially successful in his scheme and Grant played with the Orioles for spring training. Charles Comiskey, president of the Chicago White Sox, recognized him as the Columbia Giants second baseman and informed the public.
However, McGraw continued for a few months to insist that Grant was an American Indian in order to get him on the team. Eventually Charlie Grant returned to the Negro Leagues playing for the Philadelphia Giants and the Cuban X-Giants.
Photo courtesy of Hard Road to Glory