The sports world has lost yet another legend. Sadly, it seems to be every few days that news breaks on an unfortunate passing. This time, the baseball was stunned.
On Saturday, the Minnesota Twins broke the news:
Jim “Mudcat” Grant was the first African American pitcher to win 20+ games in American league history. He passed away at the age of 85. The former All-Star played for 14 seasons and built up a record of 145-119. In his big 1965 season, he actually was ranked sixth for the AL MVP voting. A rare feat for pitchers of any era. Of course, this was not any ordinary era for African American athletes.
Written by Joseph Wancho on SABR, one story in particular from 1960 stood out. As CBSSports.com noted:
“On September 16 the Indians were at home getting ready to play the Kansas City Athletics. Before the game, as the National Anthem was being played, Grant got into an argument with bullpen coach (and Texas resident) Ted Wilks. “I was standing in the bullpen, singing along with the National Anthem as I always do,” Mudcat said. “When it got to that part ‘home of the brave and land of the free’ I sang something like ‘this land is not so free. I can’t even go to Mississippi.’ It was something like that and I sang it in fun. Wilks heard me and called me a (racial) name. I got so mad I couldn’t hold myself back. I told him that Texas is worse than Russia. Then I walked straight into the clubhouse.”
Grant dressed and left the park without telling manager Jimmy Dykes, who had no idea what had happened. Dykes suspended Grant for the rest of the season without pay, which Grant accepted. “Jim called me after the game and told me he had made a big mistake,” said Dykes. “I said, ‘Yes you did and there’s nothing I can do about it now. The suspension sticks.'” Wilks apologized for his remarks, which Grant refused to acknowledge. “I’m sick of hearing remarks about colored people. I don’t have to stand there and take it,” said Grant. Wilks left the organization after the season.”
Again, the full story can be found on CBSSports.com who always do great work.
In other Twins news, it looks like Torii Hunter wont be headed to Cooperstown anytime soon. Earlier this year, he received just 9.5% of the votes to get into the Baseball Hall of Fame. A far cry from the 75% needed. While his resume is impressive, I agree with the voters here. A legend in baseball and amazing for the Twins organization but no Hall of Fame. Sorry.
I mean nine gold gloves, five All-Star selections, and over 2,400 hits is cool. However, when I think of HALL OF FAME, Torii Hunter is not somebody I think of. Maybe next year though? With that many votes, he will remain on the ballot and get more chances. Perhaps he will be somebody who gets in down the road after more consideration?
BY JUSTIN WATRY (TWITTER: @JustinWatry)
Source: Former All-Star pitcher Jim ‘Mudcat’ Grant, who spent 14 seasons in the majors, dies at 85 – CBSSports.com