BINGHAMTON (WBNG) -- Jim "Mudcat" Grant passed away at the age of 85 on Friday, but the mark that he left on the Binghamton community continues to be felt.
The first Black baseball player to win 20 games in a single season in the American League, Grant cemented his legacy through the work he did long after his playing days.
Through the Legacy All-Star Golf Tournament, Grant helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to go to four key organizations in Binghamton; Catholic Charities of Broome County, the Broome County Urban League, Boys and Girls Clubs of Binghamton and CHOW.
Bruce Boyea is a long-time friend of Grant, and the two partnered to not only provide funding for the organizations, but to also engage with the people they were able to help.
Boyea and Grant met in the late 1990s at a banquet during Baseball Hall of Fame weekend.
In 2001, Grant was visiting Binghamton High School when the September 11 attacks happened. When flights were grounded, he was forced to stay in Binghamton for a week.
"And Mudcat said himself, 'God has put us together for a reason, let's figure out what that reason is,'" Boyea, the CEO of Security Mutual Life Insurance said.
"We spent many hours talking about life and how to make a difference. We became great friends over the years," he said.
Jennifer Lesko is the CEO of the Broome County Urban League, and said Grant was a blessing to the local community.
"His generosity and his heart to help so many, you don't really find that a lot," Lesko said.
Former Binghamton Mets broadcaster and current Houston Astros play-by-play announcer Robert Ford said Grant was more than a pitcher.
"Just a really unique individual and interesting person who had done a lot in his life," he said.
Grant also established the Black Aces, an elite group of the 15 Black-American pitchers with at least 20 wins in a season during their Major League career.
"I felt like with all that he did, it wasn't just about Mudcat Grant as much as it was about this community of ballplayers that had this common connection," Ford said.
Boyea said the biggest lesson Grant taught him was a simple one.
"Kindness. Mudcat was such a kind person...And the fact that we're all here for a short period of time, and we're here to make a difference," he said.