Friday, May 27, 2011

Proximity to Greatness: Jim "Mudcat" Grant

Jim "Mudcat" Grant gets off the special Killebrew
light rail car that delivered the slugger's
old teammates to Thursday's memorial at Target Field 
Mudcat Grant had a long and distinguished major league pitching career, and he will long be remembered in Minnesota for his role on the 1965 World Series team — a 21-win regular season, two more in the Series against the Dodgers, a grand slam in Game 6.

I was struck by this sentence from him in this Pioneer Press piece from the coverage of the Killebrew memorial:

I counted up how many hall of famers I knew and played with, and it was 51.

Now, Grant played from 1958 to 1971, and he bounced around a lot -- he pitched for seven different major league teams -- and maybe he's counting winter ball and minor leagues, but 51 seems like a lot. And, in fact, off the reference in the same paragraph to Fergie Jenkins and Brooks Robinson, I think he's counting players he played against as well as teammates.

Anyway ... I went though his career and came up with 17 current members of the Hall of Fame who were teammates of his in the major leagues. There are a few others who will be -- Tony LaRussa, for example, and Joe Torre -- and quite a few for whom very good arguments can be made (Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva and Ted Simmons among them).

The 17, listed by the year in which he first played with them:

1958: Larry Doby, Hoyt Wilhelm, Bob Lemon
1959: No new names
1960: No new names
1961: No new names
1962: No new names
1963: Early Wynn
1964: Harmon Killebrew
1965: No new names
1966: No new names
1967: Rod Carew
1968: Don Drysdale, Don Sutton
1969: Lou Brock, Steve Carlton, Bob Gibson
1970: Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers, Bill Mazeroski, Willie Stargell, Robert Clemente
1971: No new names

Now, if we count his managers as teammates, we add Joe Gordon, Walter Alston, Red Schoendienst and Dick Williams, which puts him at 21.

Twenty-one ain't 51, but it's not bad, considering how much of his career was spent on some pretty blah Cleveland teams.

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