In his first full season with Minnesota in ’65, Mudcat Grant hosted a TV variety show called “The Jim Grant Show”. The hurler sang, danced as the program’s central figure.
On the field, Grant was even more entertaining. He became the first African-American pitcher to reach the 20-win plateau in the American League. Grant’s 21 wins, 6 shutouts, and .750 winning percentage were all tops in the American League. Grant gave much of the credit to Twins pitching coach Johnny Sain.
In those days, the Cy Young Award was given to the outstanding pitcher in the entire big leagues, not the best pitcher in each league. Despite Grant’s performance, the honor went to the Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax who went 26-8 with 382 strikeouts, and a 2.04 ERA.
Grant finished 6th in AL MVP voting. The Twins reached the World Series behind the pitching of Grant and Jim Kaat. At the plate they were led by MVP Zolio Versalles and .321 hitter Tony Oliva.
In Game 1, Grant best Hall of Fame hurler Don Drysdale in a complete-game effort. His victory was the first in by an African-American for the AL in Fall Classic play.
Mudcat lost a Game 4 rematch with Drysdale. In Game 6 with his team down 3-games-to-2 Grant again went the distance. In a performance for the ages, he held the Dodgers to one run and slammed a 3-run homer to boot.
The round-tripper was the the first by an African-American pitcher in World Series play and only the second postseason bomb by an AL moundsman.
Despite Grant’s heroics, the Twins succumbed in Game 7 as Koufax pitched a ten-strikeout, three-hit, shutout.
In 1966 Mudcat broke even with a 13-13 season. It was his final double-digit win total.
From 1967-1971 he played for six different teams. During those final five years of his career, Grant went 33-27 with a 3.19 ERA. He made his last big league appearance with Oakland in late September of ’71.
Mudcat Grant completed his career as two-time All Star with a 145-119 record and a 3.63 ERA.
In the collection is this trio of autographed Topps baseball cards of Mudcat Grant. From left to right they are from 1965, 1966, and 1968.