No. 29 Negro Leagues Frank Grant

Neither Frank Grant nor Bud Fowler (Number 30) have any stats in Baseball Reference. That is because the played in the minors as they had specific rulings that they weren’t allowed in the majors. Both integrated teams which showed they were excellent players. You can tell because a black player had to be outstanding just to get to play with white teams. It was a sad situation. The only reason Grant is ahead of Fowler is that his name is more recognizable to me.

I am getting a lot of this information from his SABR biography which is well written. Grant was a power hitter and excellent fielder. Grant was born in Massachusetts a few months after the Civil War ended. His parents were both from there also so were free people all their lives. I’m sure that didn’t make his life easy. Frank as far as research could tell was the ninth child.

At age 20 in 1886 he signed with an integrated team in the Eastern League. Grant made it integrated. There were 3 black players in the League that year. George Stovey and Fleet Walker were the other two. Grant hit .317 that year with the next highest on the team being .277. With his power he must have impressed his teammates.

The team disbanded at mid-season and Grant signed with Buffalo in the International League a more stable franchise. He hit .344 for them the third best in the League.

The next year Buffalo and Grant played an exhibition game against the Philadelphia Phillies. Buffalo lost, but Grant hit a home run.

In mid-1887 the International League voted to ban black players. One reason given was the grumbling of the fellow players, which was probably just an excuse. Grant and the other black players were allowed to finish the season. This occurred at the same time when Cap Anson refused to play against George Stovey and Fleet Walker in an exhibition game because they were black.

Buffalo join a new league which didn’t think about making a rule against having black players. So, after some negotiations on Grant’s part for a decent salary Buffalo signed him. He had a rough year with some injuries, bigotry of teammates and management cutting his salary due to injury. Despite this he hit .346.

Buffalo management wanted him back, but his teammates didn’t. Grant wanted to play for the same salary he started off the year before. He signed with the Cuban Giants an all-black team. In 1890 at age 24 he was named Captain of the Giants. However, he ended up signing a second contract with Harrisburg of the Eastern Interstate League which was the best finance franchise in that league.

Meanwhile the Atlantic Association a higher minor league asked Harrisburg to join their league but said they would have to get rid of their two black players to join the league. It wasn’t easy to play baseball for a living in the 19th Century, especially if you were black. Grant rejoined the Cubans the next year.

Grant played ball for mainly black teams for the rest of his career, which ended in 1903. However, he played semi-pro ball after that. Grant at least made a living off the game. As much as owners tried to keep him on the team you can tell he was a great player. Too bad he never got a chance to prove it in the majors.

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