Minnesota Twins Opening Day Countdown: 33, Mudcat Grant
The Minnesota Twins are just 33 days away from Opening Day in Baltimore. As we near that day, here is more Twins history related to that number.
The Minnesota Twins are preparing for a 2018 season with expectation with making the playoffs in 2017 as a Wild Card team. We will highlight numbers from team history that represent the number of days until Opening Day on March 29th in Baltimore.
Mudcat Grant was born on August 13, 1935 and would make his debut in major league baseball as a 22-year-old on April 17, 1958, as a member of the Cleveland Indians while facing the Kansas City Athletics. Grant would spend his first seven and a half seasons with the Indians, earning an All-Star appearance in 1963 before being traded to the Twins.
On June 15, 1964, Grant was traded to the Twins in exchange for George Banks and Lee Stange. Grant would go on to pitch 166 innings over 23 starts to finish the 1964 season. Included in those starts was 10 complete games, 1 shutout, and 2.82 ERA. As a team, the Twins would finish sixth in the American League West, but that 1964 trade for Grant set the table for something incredible in 1965.
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During that 1965 season, Grant was part of a rotation that helped lead the Twins to an American League championship and World Series appearance. Grant would pitch 270.1 innings, 14 complete games, 6 shutouts, for a 3.30 ERA. He would also log the most wins of his career compiling a record of 21-10 becoming the first African-American pitcher to become a 20-game winner.
Next to Grant’s 21 wins that season was another incredible feat in his game 6 start against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the World Series. The Dodgers were leading the series 3-2 and Grant was set to take the mound opposite of the Dodgers Claude Osteen. On short rest and battling some illness, Grant pitched 9 innings, allowed one run, struck out five batters, and hit his own 3-run home run to lead the Twins to a 5-1 victory and force a game 7.
Grant would go on to pitch through the 1971 season before retiring from baseball. You can now find Grant as he helps to tell the story of African-Americans in baseball. Most notably, as the first African-American 20-game winner, he has gone on to celebrate those pitchers to follow in his footsteps. Including through his personal website and the release of the book “The Black Aces” in which he tells the story of other African-American 20-game winners as well as other notable great African-American pitchers.
Next: Taking stock of the Minnesota Twins outfield
As we continue to countdown to sunshine and baseball we celebrate #33, Mudcat Grant!