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Saturday, June 12, 2021

Former All-Star pitcher Jim ‘Mudcat’ Grant, who spent 14 seasons in the majors, dies at 85

Jim ‘Mudcat’ Grant, the first Black pitcher in American League history to win 20 games, has died at the age of 85. The Minnesota Twins, for whom Grant pitched for four of his 14 major league seasons, announced his passing on Saturday.

Across those 14 seasons, Grant went 145-119 with an ERA of 3.63 in 293 starts and 278 relief appearances. Along the way, Grant made two All-Star teams and in 1965 with Minnesota authored that history-making 21-win season. That same year, he also finished sixth in the AL MVP balloting. As well, Grant had strong numbers across two postseasons, with the Twins in 1965 and with the Oakland A’s in 1971, the final year of his MLB career.

Grant was born in 1935 in Lacoochee, Florida. He went on to become a two-sport athlete in baseball and football, at Florida A&M, but he was unable to graduate because of financial reasons. Not long after Grant was forced to drop out of college, the Cleveland Indians signed him. By 1958, he’d made the majors for good. In addition to playing for Cleveland and the Twins, Grant also spent time in the bigs with the Dodgers, Expos, A’s, Cardinals, and Pirates.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 12, 2021 at 08:07 PM | 45 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mudcat grant, obituaries

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   1. Howie Menckel Posted: June 12, 2021 at 08:55 PM (#6023951)
Mudcat card
looks like he was "Jim Grant" in all but his 1959 Topps card. I have the last 3 or 4 of his Topps cards from my youth.

his mutton chops on his final card, 1972, are to die for (er, so to speak)
   2. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: June 12, 2021 at 10:17 PM (#6023963)
he was the Indians best pitcher and, inexplicably, Gabe Paul gave him to Minnesota for nothing (George Banks and Lee Stange--which is about as close to nothing as you can get)

2nd black pitcher to win a WS game
   3. Rough Carrigan Posted: June 13, 2021 at 12:18 AM (#6023966)
#2, that's not true. Joe Black won a WS game in 1952 and Bob Gibson won a couple in 1964, so he was third at best. Maybe I'm forgetting someone else, too.
   4. Addie Joss Posted: June 13, 2021 at 01:12 AM (#6023969)
I saw Grant pitch a complete game 5-4 14 inning victory at Yankee Stadium in 1959. Mudcat probably threw well over 150 pitches that afternoon.
   5. The Duke Posted: June 13, 2021 at 08:46 AM (#6023973)
There have been eight:

1) Joe Black, Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1952 World Series.

2) Bob Gibson, St. Louis Cardinals in the 1964, 1967, and 1968 World Series.

3) Jim 'Mudcat' Grant, Minnesota Twins in the 1965 World Series.

4) John Wyatt, Boston Red Sox in the 1967 World Series.

5) John 'Blue Moon' Odom, Oakland Athletics in the 1974 World Series.

6) Grant Jackson, Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1979 World Series.

7) Dave Stewart, Oakland Athletics in the 1989 World Series.

8) Darren Oliver, Texas Rangers in the 2011 World Series

And David price and josh James in the last couple years

I don’t know how good this list is - came from Reddit but it looked professionally done. Who thought that list would be so small?
   6. The Duke Posted: June 13, 2021 at 08:49 AM (#6023974)
That a good trivia question: name the only black pitcher to win multiple World Series games ?
   7. Howie Menckel Posted: June 13, 2021 at 09:46 AM (#6023975)
so it only happens once in a .....?
   8. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: June 13, 2021 at 10:01 AM (#6023977)
#6, Price had two wins in the 2018 World Series, so I think there are two guys now. Gibson is the only one to win games in more than one World Series.

I would also say that this list is “African American” pitchers, not “black” pitchers. Someone like Luis Tiant isn’t African American since he’s from Cuba. But Tiant supposedly said that he should have been included in Grant’s “Black Aces”, the list of black pitchers who had won 20 games in a season, who Grant wrote a book about. Tiant also won multiple WS games.
   9. GregD Posted: June 13, 2021 at 10:04 AM (#6023978)
The most striking omission may be Vida Blue. Five World Series starts for a team that won’t twelve World Series games….and he didn’t get a single win
   10. Swoboda is freedom Posted: June 13, 2021 at 10:17 AM (#6023983)
Agree Greg. I actually had to look that up as Blue was a good pitcher on 3 consecutive winners.
   11. JJ1986 Posted: June 13, 2021 at 10:47 AM (#6023985)
Hopefully there will be two names added this season.
   12. The Duke Posted: June 13, 2021 at 12:24 PM (#6023990)
These numbers seem quite shocking to me. When I first saw the mudcat grant thing “first
to win 20 games” I was thinking why is this a big deal? Then I saw the World Series list and I was amazed at how few names there were
   13. The Duke Posted: June 13, 2021 at 12:31 PM (#6023992)
So the guys who could be added in 2021 are Stroman, archer, price and jack flaherty if he is so inclined to identify that way. Who else am I missing ?
   14. JJ1986 Posted: June 13, 2021 at 12:44 PM (#6023994)
Who else am I missing ?
Among starers - Taijuan Walker, Triston McKenzie. Joe Ross or Justin Dunn could get traded. There are probably a bunch of relivers too - most notably Devin Williams. Amir Garrett could also get moved to a better team.
   15. sanny manguillen Posted: June 13, 2021 at 01:04 PM (#6023995)
Mudcat won twice in the 1965 Series, splitting Games 1 and 4 with Drysdale and beating Osteen in Game 6.

A year before sending Grant to the Twins, the Indians sent Jim Perry to them for Jack Kralick.
   16. GregD Posted: June 13, 2021 at 04:25 PM (#6024011)
CC Sabathia got two World Series starts and with a little playoff luck could have had more chances. (Sometimes people assume he's Latino, but he's from Vallejo and descended from African Americans from Louisiana, some of whom are creoles.


Dock Ellis started two world series games.

I wonder how many other Black World Series starting pitchers there have been. I'd guess a longer list.
   17. baxter Posted: June 13, 2021 at 04:57 PM (#6024018)
Surprised me that Don Newcombe did not win a WS game; neither did Al Downing (although less surprising given that he never pitched for a WS champ); both fine pitchers. Newcombe at his best was top of the line.

But, since Newcombe has passed; think of Newk who is still alive at 90, Sonny Rollins, make it to 100. Newk's time indeed.
   18. gef the talking mongoose, peppery hostile Posted: June 13, 2021 at 06:03 PM (#6024027)
Newcombe was the first possibility I thought of.

   19. Walt Davis Posted: June 13, 2021 at 06:58 PM (#6024034)
As a kid, I always confused Jim "Mudcat" Grant and Grant Jackson (no doubt for the two obvious reasons). I have this "almost clear" memory of having seen Grant pitch -- not detailed but good enough I'd have "sworn" I'd seen him a number of times. But there's a good chance I never did and even better chance I'd have no reason to remember it. He did pitch for the Pirates in 70-71 as a reliever so I might have seen him against the Cubs; he pitched for the A's in 70-71 as well so, esp in 71, I might have caught him on the game of the week. The Pirates made the playoffs in 1970 but he didn't pitch; he did pitch a couple of innings in g3 in 1971 for the A's but that was a Tues day game in Oct so I assume I was at school. In my mind, he lasted well past 1971 but that must be Jackson. I guess I knew him by reputation (and great nickname) rather than actual.

RIP Mudcat
   20. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: June 13, 2021 at 07:52 PM (#6024038)
Surprised me that Don Newcombe did not win a WS game;

Newk was NOTORIOUSLY bad in the series--0-4 w/ an 8.59 ERA
   21. baxter Posted: June 13, 2021 at 08:06 PM (#6024040)
Was not around for any of those series, but just did look it up.

First game series game he ever pitched, started the opener and was fantastic, but lost 1-0.

Other three games, he was not very good..

I had never heard that he the reputation that say, Kershaw, had. One gem and three clinkers against WS competition.
   22. sanny manguillen Posted: June 13, 2021 at 09:07 PM (#6024049)
Dock Ellis started two world series games.


Dock started Game 1 for the 1971 Pirates, lost and wasn't seen again in the Series. Game 2 starter Bob Johnson also lost, and disappeared except for a relief appearance in Game 6. Murtaugh wasn't messing around.
   23. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: June 13, 2021 at 09:51 PM (#6024054)
Doc Golden started and lost 2 games in the 1986 World Series. Oil Can Boyd started one game for the Red Sox and also lost.

Gooden was lights out in the NLCS that year but didn’t get any wins then either. I believe he was matched up against Mike Scott who was unbeatable that series.

He also had no wins in the 1988 NLCS despite pitching well. In his career he was 0-4 in the postseason in 12 appearances (9 starts). Tough breaks but he got a couple of rings.
   24. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: June 13, 2021 at 09:55 PM (#6024055)
Dontrelle Willis made 3 relief appearances in the 2003 WS but didn’t have any decisions.
   25. DL from MN Posted: June 13, 2021 at 10:23 PM (#6024060)
Earl Wilson lost game 3 in 1968
   26. sanny manguillen Posted: June 13, 2021 at 11:16 PM (#6024065)
Jim Bibby 0-0 in two starts for the Pirates in 1979, including Game 7.
   27. sanny manguillen Posted: June 13, 2021 at 11:35 PM (#6024067)
Charlie Hudson started and lost 2 for the Phils in 1983. Dave Stewart was 2-4 in eight starts in four World Series.
   28. Howie Menckel Posted: June 13, 2021 at 11:51 PM (#6024068)
Amir Garrett could also get moved to a better team.

he still has a 9.00 ERA.

if you are better than the Reds, he doesn't pollute your roster.
:)
   29. SoSH U at work Posted: June 14, 2021 at 01:12 AM (#6024070)
Other three games, he was not very good..


It was four. He managed to avoid a decision in a game he gave up 6 runs in less than two innings.
   30. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: June 14, 2021 at 09:27 AM (#6024087)
What an interesting career Mudcat Grant had. I'm not sure how to phrase this as a trivia question, so perhaps somebody else could help me:

Grant had several seasons where he appeared in games only as a starter, the highest number being 35 (twice he started 35 games in a season where all he did was start games).

Between 1967 and 1969, he was clearly in decline as a starter, and he started bouncing around starting sime games, but coming in as a reliever in other games.

In 1970, the A's figured out he could be a very good reliever, and he was extremely good - 72 games, all in relief, 123 innings,24 saves, ERA of 1.82. Oakland trades him on September 16th to Pittsburgh, who uses him eight times to end the season, but does not use him in the postseason (not sure what happened there - he was very good in the first seven appearances with Pittsburgh, but got torches in the final regular-season game. Did we get hurt?)

So he started 35 games in a season, twice, only starting games those seasons.
He also relieved in 80 games, only as a reliever.

Is that the most games a pitcher has ever exclusively started in one season, and is that the most relief appearances a pitcher has had exclusively in one season? (Smoltz hit 35 and 75; Eckersley hit 35 and 69.)
   31. salvomania Posted: June 14, 2021 at 09:42 AM (#6024090)
Is that the most games a pitcher has ever exclusively started in one season, and is that the most relief appearances a pitcher has had exclusively in one season?

Wilbur Wood is in the conversation: 77 games in 1970, all in relief, and then 49 games, all starts, in 1972.

He also pitched 86 games in relief in 1968, but had 2 additional starts as well.

So maybe Wood wins the "combined" category, with 126.
   32. Howie Menckel Posted: June 14, 2021 at 10:09 AM (#6024091)
Oakland trades him on September 16th to Pittsburgh, who uses him eight times to end the season, but does not use him in the postseason (not sure what happened there

players acquired after Aug 31 were not eligible for the postseason.
   33. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: June 14, 2021 at 10:30 AM (#6024097)
Jeff Fassero (random, I know) had seasons of 35 starts and 82 relief appearances that meet the criteria. So he might be #2 on the combined list behind Wood.

Some other closer/starter combos that I thought of:

Ryan Dempster had 34 and 74

Derek Lowe had 35 and 74

Dave Righetti had 31 and 74
   34. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 14, 2021 at 10:32 AM (#6024098)
Can't believe you guys overlooked Matt Belisle, who made 30 starts and no relief appearances for the 2007 Reds, then 80 relief appearances with no starts for the 2012 Rockies.
   35. salvomania Posted: June 14, 2021 at 10:34 AM (#6024099)
Another knuckleballer, Charlie Hough, had a 77-relief-appearance season and a 40-start season, so he's probably No. 2 combined after Wood.
   36. salvomania Posted: June 14, 2021 at 10:36 AM (#6024100)
Dick Tidrow just missed, with an 81-relief-appearance season, and a 40-start season that also included 2 relief appearances.
   37. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: June 14, 2021 at 10:43 AM (#6024101)
John Wyatt had a win in relief for the 67 Bosox
   38. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: June 14, 2021 at 10:59 AM (#6024104)
Wilbur Wood has to be one of the biggest outliers in baseball history, and probably "wins" this category. And his 77/49 split was only two seasons apart.

In fact, Wood led the league in games pitched (1968-1970), with only two of those games being starts. Two of those three years, he led the league in games finished.

Then, from 1972-1975, he leads the league in games started, starting 182 games in a four-season stretch.

That is an unbelievable eight-season stretch:

138-125, 2.97 ERA (124 ERA+), 468 GP, 226 GS, 161 GF, 99 CG, 22 SOs, 53 Saves, 2082 IP, 1143 Ks, 508 BBs

- Finished 2nd, 3rd, and 5th in the Cy Young during that stretch
- Finished 7th, 9th, and 25th in the MVP voting during that stretch
- 3 ASGs during that stretch

Has there ever been a pitcher who led the league in games finished, games pitched, and games started over the course of their career (not counting dead ball era), besides Wilbur Wood?
   39. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: June 14, 2021 at 11:29 AM (#6024111)

In fact, Wood led the league in games pitched (1968-1970), with only two of those games being starts. Two of those three years, he led the league in games finished.

Then, from 1972-1975, he leads the league in games started, starting 182 games in a four-season stretch.

he started the transition from knuckleballers being used exclusively in relief in the 50s & 60s (Wilhelm, Eddie Fisher, Bobby Tiefenaur) to being used almost always as starters. (Although Hough didn't become a full time starter until 1982)

if you remember, in Ball Four, when Astros manager Harry Walker suggested that Bouton be given a start, it was considered a weird idea
   40. Ron J Posted: June 14, 2021 at 01:11 PM (#6024118)
#39 In fact it was Phil Niekro who started the trend. Niekro's success was a major reason Tanner made the change.
   41. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: June 14, 2021 at 01:32 PM (#6024122)
Hough is tied with Fassero

Kenny Rogers has 35 and 81
Zach Duke has 34 and 81
   42. Rally Posted: June 14, 2021 at 03:36 PM (#6024141)
Gooden was lights out in the NLCS that year but didn’t get any wins then either. I believe he was matched up against Mike Scott who was unbeatable that series.


He lost 1-0 to Scott in game 1. Astros brought back Scott for game 4, but Mets went with the 4 man rotation. Gooden faced Nolan Ryan for game 5, and as expected it was a great pitcher's duel. Ryan allowed only 2 hits in 9 innings, Gooden 1 run in 10 innings, but both got no-decisions as the Mets won in 12.
   43. Walt Davis Posted: June 14, 2021 at 05:26 PM (#6024162)
More recently, CJ Wilson 74 relief then into the rotation for 34 starts. Gossage made 29 starts and 2 relief that one season but he never topped 72 games, lots of relief innings though.
   44. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: June 14, 2021 at 06:16 PM (#6024168)

Greg Swindell 34 and 81
Tom Gordon 34 and 80

Jason Isringhausen 27 and 74
   45. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: June 15, 2021 at 10:42 AM (#6024271)
Dick Tidrow just missed, with an 81-relief-appearance season, and a 40-start season that also included 2 relief appearances.


I suspect most people on this site have a similar story about a pair of players, but I always mixed up Dick Tidrow and Dennis Lamp when I was growing up in the late 70s and 80s. Both were guys with big bushy mustaches, unremarkable starting pitchers who transitioned into pretty long careers as long men/middle relievers, both won around 100 games, both pitched a lot for the Cubs in 1980, etc. Both also had names that just sort of feel the same. Today, they blend into the same guy, even though Tidrow had a Yankees phase to his career that probably made him more high-profile, on balance, for his career. But they're the same guy in my memory, at this point.

Anyway, does anybody else have two guy from their childhood that, years later, just sort of blend into the same guy?

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