Nov. 18, 2017
Jim "Mudcat" Grant
Jim "Mudcat" Grant made his Major League debut in 1958 with the Cleveland Indians. He was given the nickname Mudcat by roomate Larry Doby. Who claimed he was "ugly as a Mississippi Mudcat." The name stuck, and Grant won ten games in his rookie season winning, in which he made 28 starts and 14 appearances out of the bullpen.
Grant would write his own chapter into baseball history by becoming the first black pitcher in the American League to win twenty games. He did it in 1965 with the Minnesota Twins, when he went 21-7 with an ERA 3.30. His 21 wins were the best in the American League, along with a league leading 6 shutouts in the leading the Twins to the American League pennant. In the World Series, he would become the first black pitcher to win a World Series game, and in game six of the series he launched a three run homer, making him only the second pitcher from the American League history in accomplish the feat. He was honored by The Sporting News that season as their Pitcher of the Year.
Grant was an American League all-star in 1963 and 1965. After 1966, he worked out of the bullpen, and as with many relief pitchers it was have arm will travel. He made stops with the Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, Montreal Expos, Pittsburgh Pirates and two tours with the Oakland Athletics. He finished with a won-loss record of 145-119 with a career ERA of 3.63. He earned 54 saves along the way.
Grant wrote a book titled The Black Aces: Baseball's Only African-American Twenty-Game Winners. Featuring a chapter on each of the African-American pitchers who have accomplished the feat. A book I can recommend.