Showing posts with label Jim Mudcat Grant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jim Mudcat Grant. Show all posts

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Mudcat Grant champions the case for his teammates on the Golden Era Ballot

With a career that started under the watchful eye of Larry Doby during his 1958 rookie season with the Cleveland Indians, Jim “Mudcat” Grant was always surrounded by Hall of Fame talent. During his 14 major league seasons, Grant was teammates with 19 different Hall of Famers. On December 8th, he hopes to see that number increase in size.

Four of Grant’s former teammates — Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, and Maury Wills are up for consideration on the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Golden Era ballot. A 16-member panel of former players, executives and media members will decide on their collective fates for enshrinement at the Winter Meetings in San Diego.

Jim "Mudcat" Grant / N.Diunte
When Grant broke in to the majors in 1958, always hustling for him in the outfield was Minnie Minoso. Even though Grant was already familiar with Minoso’s aggressive style of play, as they had faced each other previously in the Cuban Winter League, he couldn’t help but notice the variety of ways in which he contributed on the field.

“I noticed one thing about Minnie,” Grant said in an interview at last month’s Firefighter’s Charitable Foundation Dinner in New York, “he was an all-around ballplayer. He knocked in a lot of runs as an outfielder and he stole a lot of bases. He could do anything. He wasn’t a big guy, but he went all out all the time. He was like Pete Rose; even on a short pop-up he would run like he was beating out a base hit. …. I think Minnie [Minoso] should be in, but he’s not going to make it. … He’s in my Hall of Fame if that counts.”

As he started to think about the Hall of Fame chances of his aforementioned teammates, he found fault with the entire process. He related the process to one of a popularity contest.

“When I talk about the Hall of Fame,” he said, “I don’t have a lot of respect for those people who vote for the Hall of Fame because they miss so many people that should be in the Hall of Fame. It seems like they called up one another and said, ‘Let’s put this guy in.’”

Grant stuck out over 1,200 batters in his major league career, but the amount of swings-and-misses on what should have been home runs that he’s seen from the Hall of Fame electorate has baffled him. He turned his attention to two other pitchers Lee Smith and Jim Kaat, the latter who is the leading returning vote getter from the 2012 Golden Era ballot.

“I know some guys that [have a Hall of Fame] vote and when they miss Lee Smith, when they miss Jim Kaat — who should be in the Hall of Fame … They’re so many pitchers in the Hall of Fame that have less victories than Jim Kaat. … How does this work now? You have to wonder why you are holding out on this guy and that guy who should be in the Hall of Fame.”

The further he thought about who the various committees have missed, he immediately turned to another teammate, Tony Oliva. Grant played alongside Oliva on the Minnesota Twins when they challenged the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1965 World Series. The Cuban-born Oliva was another slam dunk choice for Mudcat.

“He should be in the Hall of Fame,” he said. “There’s no answer to this even when you ask some of the guys that got votes; there’s no answer to it. You have to think about Vada Pinson, Al Oliver; there are so many people.”

With the newly formed committees from the Hall of Fame to assess players against those of their own eras, opportunities are being created to potentially right some of the wrongs made by the BBWAA and past Veterans Committees. Grant still feels like these groups have lost the chance to honor those deserving of the Hall.

“When you get to the Veterans Committee,” he said, “they miss out too because it seems like they compare who they’re voting for to themselves. If you’re in the Hall of Fame and you’ve got a chance to put the veterans in, you’re missing out on an opportunity. A Hall of Fame vote should be thought about for players who deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. You have to do a little research on these guys to see what they did.”



Saturday, November 22, 2014

Mudcat Grant delivers a rousing version of What a Wonderful World at Firefighters Charitable Foundation Dinner

Jim "Mudcat" Grant, the first African-American 20-game winner in the American League, serenaded the crowd with his rendition of "What a Wonderful World," at the Firefighter's Charitable Foundation Dinner at the Chateau Briand in Carle Place, NY on November 20, 2014.

Tom Sabellico (l.) with "Mudcat" Grant
The 79-year-old Grant is picture above with Tom Sabellico, who co-authored "The Black Aces," an outstanding chronicle of the select group of African-American pitchers that won 20 games in the major leagues. The video below features Grant's soulful touch on Louis Armstrong's classic.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Flashback - Jim 'Mudcat' Grant homers during Game Six of the 1965 World Series

Much talk has been made during the 2013 World Series about the Boston Red Sox losing the advantage of their designated hitters as the series moved to St. Louis. First baseman Mike Napoli was relegated to the bench in favor of David Ortiz, and the Red Sox could be forced to send their pitcher to the plate in a potentially game deciding spot.

Jim 'Mudcat' Grant homers during Game Six of the 1965 World Series
During Game Six of the 1965 World Series, before the advent of the designated hitter, the Minnesota Twins sent Jim "Mudcat" Grant to the plate in the sixth inning against Los Angeles Dodgers hurler Claude Osteen. With his team facing elimination and clinging to a 2-0 lead, Grant was determined to make Osteen pay for intentionally walking second baseman Frank Quilici.

SABR member Joseph Wancho described the heroics that followed in Grant's SABR bio.

"With the Twins leading 2-0 in the bottom of the sixth, second baseman Frank Quilici was intentionally walked to bring Mudcat to the plate. Grant then drilled a home run to right-center to give the Twins a 5-0 lead. He became the second American League pitcher to hit a home run in World Series history. Mudcat forced a game seven by beating the Dodgers with his pitching and hitting. He went the distance, giving up one run on six hits, striking out five batters and walking none. “I really didn’t know how long I would go,” said Grant. “I just figured I’d go as long as I could for as hard as I could.”

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Feller, Perry and Perez Headline the 2009 MLBPAA Legends for Youth Dinner

Orestes Destrade and Tony PerezGaylord Perry and Bob FellerBob FellerThe longest standing member of the Hall of Fame Bob Feller stood on the podium 91 years young, a veteran of World War II, addressing a crowd of 250 former players and aficionados Friday at the Hilton Hotel in New York City. Feller, looking ever spry, expressed his affection for the supporters of the MLBPAA, and vowed to be a fixture at the annual reunion dinner for years to come. He introduced the 2009 Alumni Achievement Award honoree, Gaylord Perry, who was being honored for his service to the association. Perry is extremely active with the Legends for Youth Baseball Clinics, where he and other retired MLB players give clinics around the country for young aspiring ballplayers. Fellow Hall of Famer Tony Perez was on hand to announce the 2009 Heart and Hustle Award recipient, which was Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Following the awards, the fans were treated to a round-table where Perry, Feller, Dennis Leonard, Jim "Mudcat" Grant, Tommy John, Rick Cerone, Jeff Cirillo, Mike Torrez, Billy Sample, John Franco, Orestes Destrade and Jimmy Wynn spoke on their favorite MLB experiences. All of the alumni spoke candidly about their travels in the Majors, and showed a genuine appreciation for being able to share them with the fans. "Mudcat" Grant captivated the crowd with an entertaining story of how early in his career he got revenge on an umpire who he believed was "squeezing" him. Grant dipped the unsuspecting umpire's mask in manure, and in the 100 degree heat, the oblivious umpire swore the catcher had soiled himself during the game. The umpire was none the wiser to Grant's prank. Grant also went out of his way to recognize the efforts of Feller for helping to ease baseball's integration by touring with Jackie Robinson's All-Stars in 1946, playing with Larry Doby in 1947 and honorably serving in WWII. Feller graciously accepted Grant's acknowledgment to a standing ovation from the crowd.

To keep up with MLBPAA sponsored events and clinics, check out their website at BaseballAlumni.com

To view additional photos from the event, watch the slideshow below.