"Mudcat" Grant To Share Stories and Experience
CONTACT: Jeff Foley or Sarah Boggess (518) 629-8071
FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Thursday, September 6, 2000
First African-American to Win 20 Games in the American League
Will Speak at Hudson Valley Community College
Jim "Mudcat" Grant may be best known for his feats on the baseball diamond, but when the former major league pitcher appears at Hudson Valley Community College next week, it's a safe bet that he'll talk about more than strikes and balls. The first black pitcher to win 20 games in the American League, Grant, now 65, made his major league debut in 1958, just 11 years after Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier. Grant, a right-hander who threw a biting sinker for seven major league teams, including the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins, will speak at the Hudson Valley's Bulmer Technology Center auditorium from 1 to 2 p.m. on Thursday, September 14.
The speaking engagement, which will be followed by a question-and-answer session, is free and open to the public. Seating is limited, and group reservations can be made by calling Jeff Foley or Sarah Boggess at (518) 629-8071.
A Lacoochee, Fla., native, Grant experienced racism firsthand growing up in the South, enduring segregation. The injustices didn't stop when he made it to the big leagues.
"We learned from Jackie (Robinson) that if we were thrown at or knocked over on a slide to handle it and not overreact," Grant recently told The Tampa Tribune. "When I realized what my position was in the late '50s as the only black pitcher in the American League, I realized how I could use my position to positively influence people and give something back to the (black fans) and the community."
In addition to picking up 21 wins, Grant led the Twins to the World Series in 1965. He captured two World Series victories and belted a home run as the Twins fell to the Sandy Koufax-led Dodgers in seven games. Grant also appeared in two All-Star games. Before calling it quits in 1971, he made the transition to bullpen, becoming one of only three pitchers in major league history to win 20 games as a starter and save 20 as a reliever.
Grant then focused his energy off the field. In 1972 he became the first black sports TV commentator, broadcasting Indians games. He currently runs the Black Golfers Association tour; has founded Slug Out Illiteracy and Slug Out Drugs, a travelling baseball clinic aimed at the betterment of children; and is an honorary chairman for the Child Abuse Association. Grant also is an accomplished golfer, dancer and singer.
"Being a catcher, you get to know a pitcher's makeup," friend and former Twins catcher Earl Battery told The Tampa Tribune. "I've known Mud a long time, since 1958, and he always had the ability to adjust in the middle of a game and make smart pitches. He's the same way off the field, always ready to give of himself and help others. He's a people person, that's his most outstanding characteristic. There's no race or age barriers with Mud."
But throughout Grant's life, color has often been attached to his accomplishments.
"I never mind when people use the black in reference to the things I've done," Grant told The Tampa Tribune. "Cause as long as I was the first, it meant I was there."
Hudson Valley Community College, located in Troy, offers more than 50 degree and certificate programs in four academic divisions; Business; Engineering and Industrial Technologies; Health Sciences; and Liberal Arts and Sciences. One of 30 community colleges in the State University of New York system, Hudson Valley has an enrollment of more than 9,000 students each year, and is known as a leader in distance learning initiatives and worker retraining.