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.
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 …read more