James Timothy “Mudcat” Grant was born on August 13, 1935 in Lacoochee, Florida. He was one of seven children of James Sr. and Viola Grant.
Grant was signed as an amateur free agent by the Cleveland Indians prior to the 1954 season. After four seasons in the minor leagues, from 1954 to 1957, he made his MLB debut on April 17, 1958, at the age of 22, winning a complete game against the Kansas City Athletics. In June 1964, he was traded to the Minnesota Twins, then in 1965, he went 21–7 for the Twins, helping to lead the team to the 1965 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Unfortunately, the Twins lost the series in seven games.
During the 1965 season, Grant became the first black pitcher in the American League to win 20 games, leading the American League in victories with a 21-7 record, also posting a 3.30 ERA in 270 1/3 innings, and starting 39 games. He started three World Series games, winning two. In Game 6 at Metropolitan Stadium, he gave up only one run in a complete game, and even hit a three-run homer en route to a 5-1 victory.
Grant pitched for seven teams during his 14-year big league career and was with the Twins for four of those seasons. Over the course of that career, he had a 145–119 record in 571 games, while starting in 293 of them and throwing 89 complete games. His resumé also includes 18 shutouts, 53 saves, with 2,442 innings pitched on a 3.63 ERA.
Grant was named to the All-Star team in 1963 and 1965. He received his catfish-inspired nickname when a minor league teammate thought he was from Mississippi.
Mudcat Grant died on June 12, 2021 at the age of 85.
Rest in peace.