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This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Frank Grant

(Born August 1, 1865) -- Buffalo was lucky enough to have one of the best players in 19th century baseball wear its uniform for a few years. Frank Grant is better known for being the best African American player of his time, and one of the last in organized baseball until Jackie Robinson arrived after World War II.

Grant’s name was Ulysses F. Grant but he was called Frank from an early age. He played for Meriden (Conn.) in the Eastern League, and then jumped to the Buffalo Bisons in 1886 when Meriden folded. Grant introduced himself by hitting .344 for that first season.

In 1887, Grant hit .366 (although walks counted as hits that year) and he led the league with 11 homers. The infielder also stole 40 bases, so think of him as the Joe Morgan of his time. In 1888, Grant hit .346 and scored 95 runs in 84 games.

However, racism was starting to infect the sport to a large extent around that time, and Grant had trouble staying with a team for very long for the next few years. He even invented shin guards, which he used to protect his legs during spiking attempts by opposing players on the bases.

Grant worked as a waiter until he died in 1937. He finally received his proper due in 2006, when he was chosen for the Baseball Hall of Fame. There’s little doubt he would have been a star had he been given the chance.

 --- Budd Bailey

 

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About Sports, Ink

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.

@WDX2BB | bbailey@buffnews.com

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