RIP To Jim “Mudcat ” Grant |  The OG Black Ace

RIP To Jim “Mudcat ” Grant | The OG Black Ace

MLBbro.com is always celebrating the exclusive Black Ace fraternity and educating people on exactly what a Black Ace is.

Those conversations — about Black excellence in pitching and the pioneers of the game — always lead back to former Major League Baseball all-star pitcher Jim “Mudcat” Grant, who made it his business to chronicle how incredible an accomplishment it is for a Black pitcher to win 20 games.

Grant is the first African-American 20-game winner in the American League (Minnesota Twins, 1965) and the first African-American to win a World Series Game in the American League (1965). 

Mudcat passed away on Saturday at the age of 85, leaving MLB with another lost icon.

 

 

Via thewrap.com, “Grant spent seven seasons with the Cleveland Indians at the start of his pitching career, then got traded to the Minnesota twins in 1964 where he would go on to blossom into an ace pitcher the following season. Grant went 21-7 with a 3.30 ERA. Grant played for the Twins for four seasons and also played for the Oakland A’s, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Montreal Expos and Pittsburgh Pirates.

Grant retired in 1971 with a record of 145-119 and 54 saves.

Grant was born in 1935 in Lacoochee, Florida where he went on to become a two-sport athlete in baseball and football, at Florida A&M.”

 


What’s A Black Ace?

Mudcat is the leader of an exclusive fraternity that hasn’t had a member enter since 2012, when Price went 20-5 for the Toronto Blue Jays.

“The term “Black Aces,” derived from the book, Baseball’s Only African-American Twenty-Game Winners, written by Grant. 

The book is a historically accurate description of the lives of the thirteen African-American 20-game winners in the Majors that existed when the book was released in 2007.

 

The 15 Black Aces 

Canadian-born Ferguson Jenkins won 20-games or more a remarkable seven times (1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974)

 

 

Bullet Bob Gibson did it five times (1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970)

 

 

Dave Stewart did it four times (1987, 1988, 1989, 1990)

Don Newcombe (1951, 1955 and 1956), and Vida Blue (1971, 1973, 1975) both won 20 or more games three times.

 

 

Dontrelle Willis (2005), CC Sabathia (2010), David Price (2012),  Al Downing (1971), Dwight Gooden (1985), Sam Jones (1959), Mike Norris (1980), J.R. Richard (1976), Earl Wilson (1967) and of course, Mudcat Grant (1965) all did it once.

 

 

Respect Dave Stewart

Dave Stewart is the last Black pitcher to post multiple 20-win seasons. To put this into perspective, in the history of Major League Baseball only five black pitchers have eclipsed the 20 wins mark multiple times in a career.

 

 

Two of the five are in the Baseball Hall of Fame: Jenkins, who won more than 250 games in a 14-year career, and Gibson, who did it five times in a span of only six years. Gibson was so unhittable in 1968, that MLB lowered the mound to make it easier for hitters to deal with such Black dominance 

Newcombe of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who was the first black pitcher to ever win 20 (1951), and Vida Blue of the Oakland Athletics during the 1970s, each reached the achievement three times.

 

 

Price and CC are the last of MLB’s Black Aces. 

Sabathia went 21-7  with the Yankees in 2010 after signing a huge free agent deal and then leading the Yankees to their first World Series in almost a decade in 2009. Price went 20-5 as the ace workhorse for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2012. 

 

 

With the way pitching philosophy and culture have changed in the past decade, we may never see another Black or Brown 20-game winner again. So we must hold all Black Aces in the highest esteem because it’s one of the rarest achievements in baseball.

We also must remember and cherish the memory of Mudcat Grant, a pioneer who endured and defeated way more than just prolific hitters, in order to secure his legacy.

We can never overlook the racism and the excruciatingly volatile circumstances that these pitchers had to perform under.

Never performing on an even playing field. Always having to be superhuman almost, just to do the simple things that their white counterparts took for granted.

Lighters, glasses, hands up in the air for a true sports icon. RIP Mudcat.

** Graphics by David Grubb

Tai Walker & Stro Show | Black Baseball History In The Making In Flushing

Tai Walker & Stro Show | Black Baseball History In The Making In Flushing

What’s happening in the borough of Queens right now isn’t something that we’ve seen before.

Two young, Black, starting pitchers putting together dominant seasons on the same staff.

Think about it…in the entirety of Major League Baseball history, only 15 Black starters have ever won 20 games in a season. Of those, only seven have walked away with a Cy Young award.

So, when you see Marcus Stroman (4-4, 2.66 ERA) and Tijauan Walker (4-2, 2.17) continuing to carry the battered New York Mets, you’re watching history.

 

Brown On The Mound: Taijuan Walker & Marcus Stroman Black Ball Phillies 

 

Melanated Mound Marauders

The Mets are still holding on to first place in the National League East, 3.5 games up on the second-place Braves, and the only team in the division with a winning record. They’ve done this despite having more people on the injured list than in the dugout at times, and an offense that sits near the bottom of the NL in home runs, and ranks dead last in runs batted in.

But on the mound, New York has dominated. Their 3.19 staff ERA trails only the San Diego Padres. No one has had a bigger impact on those impressive pitching numbers than Stroman and Walker, two of the three Mets hurlers who have made at least 10 starts this season.

They are tied with Jacob deGrom for the team lead in wins (4), and their names can be found across the pitching leaderboards.

Both rank in the National League’s Top 20 in earned run average and innings pitched. They carry matching 1.06 WHIP ratings and between them, batters are hitting a combined .221.

Another rising Black star, Jack Flaherty, is probably the early front-runner for Cy Young honors, but no pair of pitchers have had to shoulder a bigger burden than Stroman and Walker.

The timing of their mutual ascensions couldn’t be better.

 

Marcus Stroman Gambles On Himself 

Stroman faced doubts after opting out of the 2020 season. During his time away from the daily grind of the season, he made himself a better pitcher, adding a split changeup to his repertoire. Utilizing his splitter in tandem with his sinker, he’s been able to keep batters from squaring up and off the bases, even without the high strikeout numbers that have permeated all of baseball.

 

 

Stro has matured as well; something he spoke about before the season began.

“I’m the kind of person who is always working on myself as well,” he told Metsmerized Online. “Whether it be my self-care, whether it be my mind, whether it be my breathing, I’m always trying to improve. Not only in the field, but in life.”

 

That improved mental toughness showed when deGrom went down with an injury. Stroman picked up the slack and then some. In 11 starts, he’s given up more than three runs only twice. 

One of baseball’s smallest pitchers in stature, he’s also been able to eat innings and protect the New York bullpen, going at least six innings nine times.

Tai-Walking On These Haters 

Walker has been a much bigger surprise.  He’s already won as many games this season as he had in the last three seasons combined. Injuries robbed him of some precious development time just when he appeared to be tapping into his potential.

The curve of his career was bending towards success, with an earned run average that has decreased from 4.56 in 2015 to 2.17 this year.

But, after a 2017 campaign that saw him go 9-9 in 28 starts for the Arizona Diamondbacks, he tore the UCL in his right elbow and, after Tommy John surgery, was only able to make four starts over the next two years.

After starting the year with the Seattle Mariners, Walker rounded into shape during the second half of last season. He was able to give the Toronto Blue Jays some solid outings and finished with a 2-1 record and 1.37 ERA in six appearances.

There wasn’t much of a market for him though, as teams were worried if he could be counted on as a rotation regular.

Before his own trip to the injured list, he was erasing all doubts.

 

 

In his nine prior starts, he allowed more than three runs one time. 

Over five starts in May, Walker went 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA. Opposing hitters were left flailing, batting .156 against him. His WHIP was an obscene 0.71.

Walker, like Stroman, doesn’t rely on overpowering stuff. He pitches. He changes locations and speeds and makes quick work of each lineup he faces.

History In The Making 

Two unlikely heroes in Gotham have made the Mets exciting again.

If New York can regain its health, and find its offense, a division title could be forthcoming for the first time since 2015, when the Mets advanced to the World Series. Then, whoever the Mets face could have to deal with deGrom, Stroman, and Walker twice in a seven-game series.

Good luck with that. Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker are on the verge of something special, and quite possibly, historic.

#HIGHFIVE| Top 5 Black & Brown MLB Players Week 7

#HIGHFIVE| Top 5 Black & Brown MLB Players Week 7

Week 7 of the MLB season is in the books and one of the top MLB Bro’s in Major League Baseball has finally answered our questions on whether or not he could step up and return to his MVP type form in the Bronx.  

Yankee slugger Aaron Judge claims the top spot in this week’s #HighFive after his performance this week in light of his Twin Tower teammate Giancarlo Stanton being placed on the Injured List.

 

1. Aaron Judge

Aaron Judge sits at the top of our High Five list this week after batting .385 with four home runs and five RBIs this week.  We questioned whether it was foul or fair that the Yankees needed to look into dealing Judge, but he quickly proved us wrong and earned a spot on our Rob Parker’s “Homeboi Highlights” this past Monday. 

Judge is tied for third with 12 home runs and he hit at least one home run in all three games of the Yankees sweeping of the Baltimore Orioles including a two-homer game last Friday while winning AL Player of the Week. 

 

 

Injuries have plagued the Yankees’ plans for a Murderer’s Row lineup.  Now, with Aaron Hicks’ availability the rest of the season in question as well, Judge will need to continue to stay hot when he brings his bat back to the Bronx to take on Tim Anderson and the White Sox for a weekend series.

2. Michael Brantley

One of the most underrated hitters in all of baseball takes the number two spot on this week’s High Five list.  

The Astros have faced three of their American League West rivals in the past eight games, and Brantley has been teeing off all of them.  

 

Brantley is batting .314 with four runs and five RBI during that span as his Astros have recorded a 7-2 record.  He has been one of the most consistent hitters in all of Major League Baseball throughout his entire career and is earning every penny of the $32 million deal he earned from the Astros this past off season.

 

3. Jack Flaherty

This week Jack Flaherty moved closer to joining one of the rarest fraternities in all of baseball, Black Aces, after earning two more wins this week raising his major-league lead to eight.  

In his last 12 innings, Flaherty has given up two runs on 13 strikeouts while allowing just four hits in each start.  

 

 

Once again he put his name in the Cardinals history book next to the late great Bob Gibson as the franchise’s only pitchers to win 8 of their first 9 starts in a season. 

His next chance to raise his win streak to nine will come next Tuesday as he will meet in an interleague matchup against the White Sox and MLB Bro RBI Baseball 2021 Cover boy. 

4. Marcus Semien

 

Blue Jays second baseman Marcus Semien makes his first appearance on the High Five list this season as he has proven to be one of the best off-season signings in all of baseball.  

Semien put up near MVP numbers last for the Oakland Athletics at shortstop.  He decided to take his talents to one of the youngest, most talented teams in the sport and move over to 2nd base.  

 

 

His bat traveled with him from the west coast as he is batting .280 with 10 home runs and 26 RBI this year which leads all Major League second baseman.

In his last three games, Semien is hitting .538 with 6 RBI and two home runs including a three-hit performance Saturday against the Phillies.

 

5. Tim Anderson

The 2019 batting champion has continued his strong showing at the plate this season as he earns the number five spot on this week’s High Five list.  

Tuesday Anderson saw his 12 game hitting streak come to an end.  Despite that, he still hit .300 this week including having three multi-hit games.  His White Sox are tied for the best record in the American League league despite losing multiple players to injury, including 2020 MVP Jose Abreu.

The former batting champ is still influencing the culture on and off the field.

 

Anderson’s biggest play this week came off the field when he came to the defense of his teammate Yermin Mercedes who was punished by their manager Tony La Russa for hitting a home run on a 3-0 count during a 15-4 blowout of the Twins. 

 

 

The game wasn’t over!  “Keep doing your thing big Daddy!,” said his Rookie of the Year candidate teammate.

T.A. has shown great leadership both on and off the field this season.  With a lot of drama surrounding the South Side, Anderson will continue to be one of the best hitters in baseball.

Smokin Aces| Stro & Tai Weezy Got Em Saying “Jacob deGrom Who?”

Smokin Aces| Stro & Tai Weezy Got Em Saying “Jacob deGrom Who?”

Usually, a team that loses a pitcher like Jacob DeGrom for any period of time would be scrambling to figure out a way to fill that void.

The New York Mets are being justifiably cautious with their ace, who was placed on the 10-day injured list earlier this week. But the team has continued to roll with DeGrom watching, extending their winning streak to seven games with a two-game series sweep of the Baltimore Orioles.

The last two wins came in large part to the efforts of rising New York stars Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker. In sweeping the short series with the O’s, Stroman and Walker combined for back-to-back outstanding outings.

 

 

In Tuesday’s 3-2 victory, Stroman gave up one run in 6.1 innings, earning a no-decision. It was his fourth start with at least six innings pitched while allowing one run or less.

Wednesday night, Walker earned his third win of the season after holding Baltimore to one run by scattering four hits over seven innings. For the third time in seven starts, he allowed one run or less.

On the strength of those showings, the Mets are the only team in the National League with three starters in the top 10 in earned run average.

 

 

Don’t be distracted by their combined 6-4 record. 

Stro Flow

Run support has been a big problem for Stroman. The Mets scored three runs in his three losses, and have been held to two runs or less 10 times this season.

Still, Stroman’s current 2.01 ERA and .213 batting average allowed are the lowest marks he’s posted since 2015 when he went 4-0 for the Toronto Blue Jays.

And, in the age of power pitching, Stroman is pitching-pitching. He doesn’t walk hitters and he pitches to contact without giving up big innings, utilizing his defense

Tai Weezy

Tai Weezy has followed Stroman’s lead, needing just one more win to tie last season’s total. Opposing hitters are batting .170 against Walker and his 2.20 earned run average is a career-best. At 6’4”, and 235 pounds, Walker is more of a flame thrower than his teammate, striking out 39 in 41 innings.

 

 

Smokin Aces

The two hurlers have taken very different paths to get to this point. 

Stroman has been on the baseball world’s radar ever since he was drafted in 2012. His talent was undeniable, but consistency was elusive. His trade to the Mets was an opportunity for a rebirth.

Before the season, Walker was an afterthought. An inexpensive, back of the rotation option. He didn’t get many looks as he entered the season still rebounding from Tommy John surgery two years ago.

Now, they’re shining as part of the best starting rotation in the majors.

And they’re doing it with style and with passion. 

 

These Black Aces are the new Kings of Queens, and they may help carry the Mets to a division