Jim "Mudcat" Grant, a longtime MLB pitcher who became the first Black 20-game winner in the American League as a member of the Minnesota Twins, has died, the team announced on Saturday. He was 85 years old. The cause of death was not announced.
"The Minnesota Twins are deeply saddened by the loss of Jim 'Mudcat' Grant, a key part of the franchise's early years in Minnesota and linchpin of the starting rotation on the record-setting 1965 club," the Twins said in a statement. "Though he spent just four years of his 14-year career with the Twins, Mudcat remained a beloved member of our organization well into his retirement and was a frequent visitor with fans and staff alike at TwinsFest. We send our condolences to the entire Grant family, as well as the other organizations impacted by his 60-plus years in and around the baseball world."
Grant started his MLB career in 1958 as a member of the Cleveland Indians. And while he put together some solid seasons in Cleveland, he made a name for himself when he joined the Twins in 1964. Grant had a breakout season in 1965, posting a 21-7 record with a 3.30 ERA. His performance helped the Twins win 102 games and reach the World Series. Unfortunately, the Twins lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games. Grant would spend another two seasons in Minnesota before bouncing around different teams, including the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Oakland Athletics twice. He played his final game on September 29, 1971, at the age of 36.
In his 14 seasons in the Major Leagues, Grant posted a 145-119 record with 1,267 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.63. He also posted 89 complete games, 18 shutouts, and 54 saves as a relief pitcher. Grant was also solid as a hitter, posting a .178 batting average with six home runs and 65 RBIs.
"The Cleveland Indians family is deeply saddened by the loss of Jim 'Mudcat' Grant, a true fan favorite on both the playing field and in the broadcast booth," Bob DiBiasio, Indians, SVP/Public Affairs, said in a statement. "A native of Lacoochee, Fla., he joined the Indians organization at the age of 18 in 1954, made his Major League debut in 1958, and left a legacy as large as his personality. To this day, Mudcat was a cherished member of the Indians Alumni Ambassador Program. We send our condolences to the entire Grant family, as well as to his many teammates and other organizations impacted by his 60-plus years in our game."