Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lacoochee's Mudcat Grant on his 1960s anthem moment: 'Those were trying times'

More than 50 years before Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee during the national anthem, Jim "Mudcat" Grant stood in a Cleveland bullpen with something on his mind.

The Lacoochee native was a right-handed pitcher for the Indians, and he wasn't happy about how African-Americans like himself were being treated. He couldn't eat at restaurants with his white teammates. He couldn't stay in the same hotels, either, in certain cities. His former roommate, Larry Doby, received death threats after becoming the first black player in the American League.

"There were difficult times," Grant said.

And on Sept. 16, 1960, he finally had enough.

The Indians were hosting Kansas City, and Grant sang the national anthem, as he always did — until the final two lines, about the land of the free and the home of the brave. Grant changed it to something like, "And this land is not so free, I can't even go to Mississippi."

Cleveland bullpen coach Ted Wilks overheard Grant's ad lib.

"Mr. Wilks was not very happy with me," Grant recalled this week from his home in California. "We had a yelling situation."

It ended with Grant storming to the clubhouse and out of the ballpark. Cleveland suspended him without pay for the final two weeks of the season.

"I was upset, because those were trying days," Grant said. "Those were trying times."

So are these.

MORE RELATED: Hometown of Lacoochee still in 'Mudcat' Grant's heart

NFL players, including Bucs receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson, have protested perceived racial injustices and comments from Pres. Donald Trump by kneeling during the anthem, or by not taking the field until it was over. Vice President Mike Pence immediately left last week's Colts-49ers game after more than a dozen San Francisco players refused to stand during The Star-Spangled Banner.

"One thing's for sure," Grant said. "They are getting the attention, aren't they?"

Grant's action was covered and discussed at the time, but it never exploded like the NFL protests have; it's more of a footnote in the life of one of Pasco County's most famous athletes.

Grant spent parts of four more seasons in Cleveland after the incident before bouncing around the majors for the rest of his 14-year career. The two-time All-Star was the AL's first black pitcher to win 20 games (for the Twins in 1965), and there's a street named after him in his hometown. His legacy includes two nephews (Troy and Darren Hambrick) who played in the NFL.

Although Grant was punished for his action, the 82-year-old doesn't regret it.

"If you wanted attention to the fact that you were disappointed … you found a way to express yourself in that," Grant said. "Or you can just sit on the sidelines and not say nothing and go out and play, if that's what you want to do."

Grant didn't want to sit on the sidelines during the civil rights movement. Almost six decades later, he still doesn't. If he were still in the game, he said, he'd be kneeling alongside the other protesters.

"Of course," Grant said. "Why not?"

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Contact Matt Baker at mbaker@tampabay.com. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

Lacoochee's Mudcat Grant on his 1960s anthem moment: 'Those were trying times' 10/13/17 [Last modified: Friday, October 13, 2017 11:38am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs' Vernon Hargreaves: 'I'm not making any plays'

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Eli Manning gathered his receivers together on the sideline during the Giants' Week 4 game against the Bucs and told them he planned to target the weakest link of the secondary all afternoon.

    Patriots receiver Chris Hogan gets position in front of Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves for a 5-yard touchdown pass in New England’s win on Oct. 5.
  2. Lightning's J.T. Brown to stop anthem protest, focus on community involvement

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Lightning wing J.T. Brown will no longer raise his first as a protest during the national anthem before games.

    J.T. Brown says he will work more with the Tampa police and groups that serve at-risk young people.
  3. Signs point to Jameis Winston dressing vs. Bills

    Sports

    TAMPA — The Bucs didn't sign another quarterback Wednesday, which would suggest they are confident that Jameis Winston can be active as a backup to Ryan Fitzpatrick on Sunday at Buffalo if he doesn't start.

  4. FSU doesn't feel need for ongoing reminder of last year's beatdown at Louisville

    Sports

    Of course Florida State remembers what happened against Louisville last year. The 63-20 loss was one of the worst defeats in Seminoles history.

    Louisville's Lamar Jackson looks back at the action from the sidelines during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Murray State, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
  5. Goodell: NFL not changing its national anthem policy

    Bucs

    NEW YORK — In the face of fan unrest and accusations from the president about the league being unpatriotic, the NFL is not changing its national anthem policy to require players to stand.

    NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during a news conference, Wednesday in New York. [AP Photo/Julie Jacobson]