All-Time Indians: Mudcat Grant

Name: James Timothy Grant     Position: Starting Pitcher      
Nick Name: Mudcat               Number: 33        
Tribe Time: 1958-1964           DOB: 08/13/1935      
Accolades: 1963 All-Star        
Stats W L W% ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H ER HR BB SO WHIP K/9 BAA
Best Season (1961) 15 9 0.625 3.87 35 35 11 3 0 244.2 207 105 32 109 146 1.29 5.4 .220
Career 67 63 0.515 4.09 227 165 50 8 8 1,214.2 1,090 552 166 565 707 1.36 5.2 .230

Jim "Mudcat" Grant began his impressive 14 year career with the Tribe after being signed by the Indians in 1954. By the end of his career, Grant had amassed 145 wins and one of the more storied careers in baseball history and it all started in Cleveland. Grant started it off with an impressive rookie campaign in 1958, winning 10 games while throwing 204 innings and striking out 111. Impressively, he did this while holding a 3.84 ERA at the age of 22.

This was a big transitional time for the Indians as GM Frank Lane traded most of the team, Hall of Famer Early Wynn, which, in addition to the retirement of fellow Hall of Famer Bob Lemon, left the starting rotation devoid of established talent. To make matters even worse, Herb Score was still recovering after being hit in the eye with a batted ball in 1957 and was only able to pitch in 40 innings. To fill the gaps, Gary Bell, Ray Narleski and Cal McLish were all pulled from the bullpen and Grant himself became the final starter as a rookie. 

Grant maintained in the rotation in the following season, despite the addition of Jim Perry and the reintroduction of Score to the rotation. He wasn't quite as effective as his rookie year and was used out of the bullpen 19 times in addition to his 19 starts. His ERA rose to 4.14 that year and 4.41 the next, but he managed to stay in the rotation throughout and it paid off for the Indians in 1961.

That year, Grant was the best pitcher on the staff, outplaying the ace, Perry with a 3.87 ERA (Perry lead the team with 17 losses). This success was short lived, however, as 1962 was more like 1960 than 1961 and his ERA jumped back up to 4.27. He maintained in the rotation, but completed a smaller percentage of games than any previous season and struck out just 90 after 147 the year before. The following season, 1963, was a return to greatness for Grant as he dropped his ERA below 4.00 again starting another 32 games and striking out a career high 157.

Deciding to sell high, the Indians traded Grant the following season, completely unaware that they best was yet to come. It is understandable that the Indians thought he would regress as he had in previous seasons, so the deal that sent him to Minnesota for George Banks and Lee Stange probably looked good at the time. It doesn't look good anymore.

Mudcat finished 1964 well, but things really blew up for him in 1965. He lead the AL in wins (21), winning percent (.750) and shut outs (6) in his first full season with the Twins, going to the All-Star game and finishing sixth in the MVP voting. His next two years in Minnesota cemented him reputation as a starter and before he left town, he had amassed 117 of his 145 career wins in 10 seasons with two teams. After this, he spent time with the Dodgers, Expos, Cardinals, Athletics and Pirates, mostly as a long reliever. After a strong season in 1971 (3.17 ERA in 102 IP) with the A's and Pirates, he was released and despite a comeback attempt in 1972 with Oakland, he never played another game in the Major Leagues.

Since retiring, Grant has become a historian of sorts, documenting the careers of what he calls, the "Black Aces," the fifteen African-American pitchers to win 20 games in a single season. He has since written a book on the subject and currently travels the country promoting the subject.

Joseph Coblitz

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of BurningRiverBaseball.com and has been since it's inception in 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona the Spring Training home of the Cleveland Indians.

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