Jim 'Mudcat' Grant, 1st Black pitcher to win 20 games in AL, dies

Grant's career-best season helped the Minnesota Twins post a 102-60 record for a World Series spot. He also led the league with six shutouts in 1965.

6/14/2021 9:04:00 PM

Jim “Mudcat” Grant, the first Black 20-game winner in the American League and a key part of Minnesota’s first World Series team in 1965, has died at age 85.

Grant's career-best season helped the Minnesota Twins post a 102-60 record for a World Series spot. He also led the league with six shutouts in 1965.

Don Newcombe, the intimidating right-handed pitcher who was the first player in major league history to have won rookie of the year, Most Valuable Player and Cy Young awards, died Tuesday.Grant’s career-best season helped the Twins post a 102-60 record for a spot in the World Series. He also led the league with six shutouts in 1965.

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He started three times in that World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers and won twice — including a 5-1, complete-game victory in Game 6, during which he also hit a three-run homer. Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers won Game 7.Grant went 50-35 with a 3.35 ERA in 129 appearances, including 111 starts, with the Twins. He was traded to the Dodgers after the 1967 season and also wound up pitching for Montreal, St. Louis, Oakland and Pittsburgh.

Grant was long known by his unique nickname, though there are varying stories about its origination. A native of Lacoochee, Fla., where he grew up poor in a small, segregated town north of Tampa, Grant signed with Cleveland at age 18 and made his major league debut for the Indians in 1958. He finished his 14-year career with a 145-119 record and a 3.63 ERA over 571 appearances, including 293 starts. headtopics.com

After retiring from the mound, Grant worked in Cleveland’s community relations department and as a broadcaster while becoming an activist and advocate for Black participation in the sports.He co-wrote a book published in 2006, “,” which chronicled the lives of his fellow Black 20-game winners like Bob Gibson and Ferguson Jenkins. In 2007, President George W. Bush honored Grant and “The Black Aces” at a White House ceremony for Black History Month.

Jim “Mudcat” Grant on the mound in 1965.(AP)Advertisement“At certain points in our past, we didn’t have a lot of African American pitchers,” Bush said that day. “I want to thank you, Mudcat, for showing courage, character and perseverance, and also thank you for setting an example.”

The Twins held a moment of silence for Grant before their game against Houston on Saturday after showing a brief montage of black-and-white highlights from his playing career.He was a frequent visitor to the team’s annual winter fan festival andmaintained strong relationships with the Twins

long after his playing days were done. Grant was an accomplished musician, too, with a talent for the blues. He sang a cover of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” at the 2011 memorial service for his former Twins teammate Harmon Killebrew. Read more: Los Angeles Times »

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