Grant, Mudcat

Grant, Mudcat, 1935-2021, African-American baseball player, b. Lacoochee, Fl., as James Timothy Grant Jr. As a teenager, Grant played baseball, football, and basketball in an all-black high school, and then attended the historically black university Florida A&M for two years on a baseball scholarship. He was signed to the Cleveland Indians farm system in 1954, making his major league debut as a pitcher in 1958. In 1961, he played on the All-Star team. Grant was traded to the Minnesota Twins in spring 1964; the following year, he became the first Black pitcher to have a 20-win season, including six shutouts. In that year’s world series facing the Los Angeles Dodgers, Grant pitched two complete game wins, losing a third, and also hit a three-run homer in the series’ sixth game; Sporting News named him the American League Pitcher of the Year. Facing discrimination on the road, Grant was an early supporter of the civil rights movement. Besides baseball, he pursued a singing career, forming a revue Mudcat and the Kittens in 1965 to play nightclubs during the off-season. Dropped by the Twins following the 1967 season, Grant played as a relief pitcher for several other teams before retiring from baseball in 1971, and then worked as a TV commentator for the Twins through the ‘70s. He also became an advocate for promoting the important role that Blacks had played in the history of baseball.

See his Black Aces: Baseball’s Only African-American Twenty-Game Winners (2006, with T. Sabellico and P. O’Brien).

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