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What are some things baseball player Frank Grant did that were worth mentioning?

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2006-12-20 20:56:24

Ulysses Franklin (Frank) Grant (August 1, 1865 - May 27, 1937)

was an African American baseball player in the 19th century, who

played in the International League and for various independent

teams. He is widely considered to have been the greatest

African-American player of the 19th century. Grant was born in

Pittsfield, Massachusetts. In the late 19th century, few black

hitters matched up with Grant. However, two pitchers could be

argued to have been the greatest players of their era - Newark's

George Stovey and Syracuse's Robert Higgins. A middle infielder,

mostly a second baseman, Grant's fielding was widely praised as the

best in the league. When he joined Buffalo of the IL in the 1880s,

some believed he was the best player they have ever had, even

though future Hall of Famers had played before him there. Grant had

substantial power at the plate, often hitting home runs and very

often getting extra base hits. Grant hit for extra bases every four

times he got a hit. Surprisingly, he was quite small (5'7", 155

pounds). He also hit .344 with Buffalo. Playing mostly second base,

he was frequently among the league leaders in batting (1886 - 7th,

.326; 1886 - 3rd, .340; 1888 - 5th, .346; 1890 - 5th, .328). In

1887, the 22-year-old paced the IL with 11 home runs and 49

extra-base hits and led Buffalo with 40 stolen bases. Grant also

earned the nickname the "Colored Dunlap" in honor of the white Fred

"Sure Shot" Dunlap, the Majors' slickest fielding second baseman at

the time. He repeatedly impressed the white baseball establishment.

In 1887, John Chapman, the Bisons' veteran manager, valued Grant's

services at $5,000--quite a compliment when Chicago had recently

sold superstar Mike Kelly to Boston for $10,000. Despite

significant racial turmoil that year, Buffalo forced the IL to

rescind a proposed color line to keep Grant in town. Grant is also

notable for becoming the first black player to play on the same

team in organized baseball for three consecutive seasons. By 1888,

anti-black sentiment was all around the league, and it seemed only

Buffalo argued against segregation (possibly because of Grant).

When blacks were banned from organized, white-controlled baseball

after 1887, Grant went on to become a hugely successful Negro

Leaguer for the Cuban X Giants, Big Gorhams and Philadelphia Giants

into the 20th century. During the 1887 season, he hit for the cycle

in one game and stole home twice in another. Grant ended his career

in 1903, ending the early era of the Negro Leagues. From there, the

Negro leagues would blossom and grow up to the mid-1940s, but they

likely never would have done so without the early players, such as

Grant. He died at age 71 in New York City. Grant was elected to the

Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.


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