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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: An all-time great

   February 27, 2006 -- One of the greatest players in Buffalo's long baseball history finally received recognition on this day. "Overdue" doesn't begin to cover it.

   Frank Grant was finally elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. He was one of 17 people from the Negro Leagues and pre-Negro Leagues selected in a special election.

   Grant was called the last great African American player in pro baseball before the color line was put into place. He was a standout performer with the Buffalo Bisons in an integrated International League from 1886 to 1888.

   A reporter in the Sporting Life newspaper put it this way: "With all due credit to the ability of Hardie Richardson and Jim O'Rourke, I think I can say that Grant is the best all-round player Buffalo ever had," he wrote.

   Grant could hit for average, ran the bases well and offered surprising power despite a 5-foot-7 frame carrying 155 pounds. In other words, think of a 19th century Joe Morgan.

   By the end of the 1880s, blacks were no longer welcome in organized ball. Grant had to play for all-black teams in the minor leagues. He died in 1937 at the age of 71 and couldn't afford a tombstone in a Clifton, N.J., cemetery. However, the Negro Leagues Grave Marker project took care of that problem last year.

--- Budd Bailey

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