June 13, 2021

James Timothy Grant Jr., better known as Mudcat, is dead at 85

Mudcat Grant, who won 145 games over a 14-year major league pitching career, including 21 wins for the World Series-bound Twins in 1965, died Saturday, the Twins announced. He was 85.

Grant spent the bulk of his career with the Cleveland Indians, but he had his best season in 1965, helping the Twins win 102 games en route to a World Series appearance opposite Sandy Koufax and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The series went seven games and Grant made three starts, winning Game 1 over Don Drysdale and Game 6 against Claude Osteen. He also hit a three-run home run in the Game 6 win, beating the Dodgers, 5-1.

Grant was the first Black pitcher in the American League to have a 20-win season. He finished ’65 at 21-7 with a 3.30 ERA and tossed a league-leading six shutouts. Grant was named an all-star that season, the second nod of his career.

After baseball, Grant co-wrote “The Black Aces: Baseball’s Only African-American Twenty-Game Winners.”

Extra innings…

-Jose Berrios pitched seven strong innings and Jorge Polanco had three hits at the top of the order to power a 5-2 win over the Houston Astros on Saturday. Michael Pineda gets the ball Sunday.

Berrios was cruising along with eight strikeouts until he gave up two solo home runs in the seventh inning, Still, he improved to 7-2 with a 3.49 ERA on a team that is 12 games under .500. Berrios is a shoo-in to make his third all-star appearance for the Twins.

Among Polanco’s three hits was a two-run home run, his ninth.

-On Oct. 3, 1970, the Twins and Baltimore Orioles took the field at the Met for Game 1 of the American League Championship Series. The game-time temperature was 57 degrees and the wind, from an unknown direction, was blowing at 23 miles per hour, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

The wind would play a major role in the game, writes author Thom Henninger in his book “The Pride of Minnesota: The Twins in the Turbulent 1960s.” It would play such a role that the Twins feel it turned a foul ball into a grand slam home run.

Orioles pitcher Mike Cuellar, who won 24 games that season, got the nod in Game 1 and helped his own cause with the bases loaded in the fourth inning. Except no one thought his hit was put in play, according to the book.

Henninger writes:

Orioles shortstop Mark Belanger, who was standing on first when Cuellar put the ball in play, was well positioned to track the ball’s path. “When the ball went by, it was 15 feet foul,” Belanger told St. Paul Pioneer Press writer Patrick Reusse. “The wind blew it back in.” Baltimore starter Dave McNally was in the clubhouse watching the game on television when his rotation mate made contact, and he told Reusse that NBC broadcaster Jim Simpson’s immediate response was, “There’s a long foul ball to right.”

The Twins lost Game 1, 10-6, and the series to the Birds.


Hi, I’m Rolf Boone, Twins fan.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.