“Gore attempted to make a one-handed grand stand play in center yesterday, but failed.” “Diamond Dust,” Cleveland Leader, May 10, 1881, p1
NOTE: There are extended uses of the term in politics as early as 1880, which indicates it was already in use in sports.
Previous earliest use (Dickson Baseball Dictionary, 3rd edition, 2009):
1883. “Little [William] Hunter of Saginaw worked the grand stand almost to death yesterday, and several others were guilty of the same piece of foolishness! Grand stand plays are monotonous … Every other ball pitched Hunter would execute a combined acrobatic song and dance, fall on his side (each move a picture), and the spectators would applaud.” (Grand Rapids [Mich.] Eagle, Aug. 10; Peter Morris).