Daily Dirt: Remembering the days of Mudcat and the Kittens

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Daily Dirt for Aug. 11, 2021

I make no secret that baseball is my favorite sport, so when we lose one of the game’s former stars, it’s an especially sad day in the land of the Daily Dirt. Vol. 34 serves as a reminder for all the game’s players we’ve seen depart so far in 2021.

1. It’s not been a good year for baseball fans. We’ve lost a lot of former stars of the game — almost 70 — including big names like Hank Aaron, Tommy Lasorda, Don Sutton and J.R. Richard. Here’s a look at a few others, who did not carry that kind of star power, but will still be missed.

• Jim “Mudcat” Grant: Grant was the first Black pitcher to win 20 games in the American League (1965) while with the Minnesota Twins after a lengthy stay with the Cleveland Indians. He won 145 games with eight clubs. In the offseasons during much of the 1960s and early 1970s, Grant, was the front man for musical group called “Mudcat and the Kittens.” He later served as a TV analyst and became famous for his infamous pronunciations of players’ hometowns. Mudcat was 85 when he died in early June.

• Grant Jackson: Jackson epitomized the definition of a “stylish southpaw” while pitching from 1965-82. His biggest claim to fame, however, may have been that he was a switch-hitter at the plate, which is quite unusual for a pitcher. Jackson was 78 when he died in February.

• Rennie Stennett: Stennett was my favorite player on some of those Pittsburgh Pirates powerhouses in the early 1970s. I loved his name, plus the fact he always had a great chart in the old Sports Illustrated tabletop baseball game that I still love to play. Stennett was a career .274 hitter who died at age 72 in May.

• Coot Veal: I first became interested in baseball in the early 1960s, and Veal was one of the first baseball cards I remember. His actual first name was Orville, and he died at age 88 in March. Veal may have only been a .231 hitter, but hey, with a name like Coot, he’ll never be forgotten.

My favorite team, the Indians, have been hit especially hard this year. Along with the loss of Mudcat, Tribe fans also are mourning the passings of Richie Scheinblum, Pedro Gonzalez, Dick Tidrow, Del Crandall, Wynn Hawkins, Stan Williams and Tom Hilgendorf. Those guys were never stars but represented a good chunk of my childhood. R.I.P., fellas, there’s at least one person who will be missing you for years to come.

Jim Grant posing with “Mudcat and the Kittens” (Photo Courtesy of the Society of American Baseball Research)

2. If you’re like me, you look back at the 1960s with a fond eye, mostly because of the prices. Compare the following 1960s costs to what you pay today.
• You could get a double-decker hamburger with fries, salad, and ice cream for dessert for $1 in 1965. For 30 cents more, you could get a complete fried chicken or shrimp dinner (also with fries and salad).
• A Hershey bar was 5 cents.
• A six-pack of Coke was 59 cents.
• Twenty first-class postage stamps were $1.

3. According to screenrant.com, the highest paid stars in TV series history have been:
• Charlie Sheen made $1.8 million per episode the last few years of “Two and a Half Men.”
• Ray Romano made $1.7 million per episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond” during its entire 1996-2005 run.

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