Wednesday, April 14, 2010

#236 Dennis McLain

#238 Dennis McLain
You may know today's player better as Denny McLain. Go figure - Topps called Denny "Dennis", but spent years calling Dennis Martinez "Denny". Sheesh. Anyway, this is his rookie card, for those who are into that kind of thing.

Fun facts about Denny McLain:

-Hailing from Chicago, Denny signed with the hometown White Sox right out of high school in 1962.

-The Tigers claimed him on waivers the following year and called him up in September after he won 18 games at A and AA. He won two of his three starts - both complete games.

-An underwhelming 1964 was followed by a breakout the next year: 16-6, 2.61 ERA, 13 complete games, four shutouts, and 192 strikeouts.

-1966 brought Denny's first 20-win season and All-Star selection, but his ERA jumped to 3.92.

-In the Year of the Pitcher (1968), none in the American League was more dominant than McLain. He became the last pitcher to date to win thirty games (31-6), compiled a 1.96 ERA, and led the league in wins, win percentage (.838), complete games (28), innings pitched (336), and strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.44). He was the unanimous Cy Young and the runaway choice for A.L. MVP. He won only one of his three World Series starts, but it was a Game Six laugher that drew Detroit even with the Cardinals.

-Denny made it back-to-back Cys with a 24-9, 2.80 ERA, nine-shutout effort in 1969 that allowed him to share honors with Mike Cuellar.

-Arm troubles and a deepening gambling addiction caused his career to run off the rails after that. He was shuttled from Detroit to Washington, where he led the league with 22 losses in 1971, to Oakland, and finally to Atlanta, all in the span of three seasons.

-The Braves released McLain in March 1973, ending his major league career at age 28. By the end of the year, he was out of professional baseball altogether. In parts of ten seasons he had gone 131-91 with a 3.39 ERA and 105 complete games.

-Denny made money during and after his career by playing the organ; he even used to play at Tigers games when he was still active.

-His life has often been difficult in the decades since he hung up his spikes. He made cash as a golf hustler, and was imprisoned under drug trafficking, racketeering, and embezzlement charges (the conviction was later reversed). His daughter was killed by a drunk driver at age 26. He spent another six years in prison after a packing company that he owned went bankrupt; the charges were embezzlement, mail fraud, and conspiracy. He currently lives in Pinckney, MI with his wife Sharon.
#238 Dennis McLain (back)

1 comment:

  1. He's really quite the package, isn't he? I've got this card under a "glasses" post, but the hat's a winner too, isn't it? Here's the link: