When John McGraw took his Baltimore Orioles to Hot Springs, Arkansas for spring training in 1901, he saw that a bellboy at their hotel was a particularly fine second baseman. McGraw wanted to sign him for the Orioles, but Charles Grant was black. McGraw decided to sidestep the color line by composing an elaborate fiction that Grant, who was rather light-skinned, was Charlie Tokohama, a full-blooded Cherokee Indian. Grant went along with the ruse, and the sporting papers of the day were filled with news of McGraw’s sensational new find. The plot was eventually exposed when Charles Comiskey, president of the Chicago White Sox, recognized Grant as the second baseman of the Columbia Giants, a Chicago-area black team.
McGraw dropped Grant from the Orioles’ roster, and Chief Tokohama never played in the majors. No statistics survive from his 15 seasons in Negro baseball, though he was the starting second baseman for the black championship teams of 1903 and 1904, the Cuban X Giants and the Philadelphia Giants, respectively. Grant was killed in Cincinnati in a freak accident in July 1932 when a passing auto blew a tire and jumped the curb, striking him while he was relaxing in front of his apartment house.