A day or two after March 8, 1996, the day my Dad Max was called Home, my phone rang. Still reeling and with a huge hole in my heart the voice on the other end of the phone was gentle, kind and reassuring. Jim "Mudcat" Grant took the time to call me and offer condolences but also to say if I needed someone I may call on him and even more so call him "Dad." I met Jim at some baseball camps and noted that truly I was a fan of his accomplishments more so as a man than even a player or commentator. Some may take offense to those words but not Jim...as being a good man was always a top priority for him. Think about this - Jim was the first Black player to win 20 games plus he won a World Series game and hit a home run (shucks it was for the Twins in '65). Wonderful achievements but he cared more about making sure that African Americans were more active in his beloved game. Jim also roomed with Larry Doby, 2 pioneers out to tear down the walls of color barriers.
Jim was versatile off the diamond too! He hosted a variety show in Minneapolis, called Tribe games on TV with Harry Jones and penned a book "The Black Aces; Baseballs only African-American Twenty-Game winners. JIm was honored by President George W. Bush at the White House along with Fergie Jenkins, Dontrelle Willis and Mike Norris. Jim also truly endeared himself to others and became a part of our love of the game with his special lexicon of language and knowledge enlightening us to the terms "Chin Music," "You'll need a ticket to get that one Harry" plus more and along with his special brand of pronouncing names of places and people only the way THE MUD could do it Of course Bucyrus, Ohio was "BUCKY-RUS."
Jim answered the call in the early 2000's along with MLB Scout Reggie Sanders (from Cleveland Hts.) when the URBAN ACES needed to get a few more youngsters signed up for their baseball league and to hold a clinic before the season started. The ACES held a special place in my heart as they played on the same fields I did when I played the majority of my Little League ball in the Golden Knights League. For me the diamonds were behind St. Henry Church and School on E. 183rd and Harvard. The diamonds were easily accessible off of Feiner Drive. Today St. Henry is Bishop Lyke School and there still is a sign noting "THE HOME OF THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS" on the side of a bus garage! Mud was captivating with his stories of baseball and fundamentals of this great game. He was 69 at the time and related to the young men and women as a peer!
I was at the Indians - Mariners game when my phone buzzed and the news of Jim's passing was posted. Tears streamed down my face as daughter Maggie and wife #DonneStrong asked what was wrong? When I told them a response was given that "how lucky I was to have two Dads...MAX and MUD! Toe the rubber in the sky now Jim...I am certain you'll toss some BP!