Denny McLain was a great pitcher, mostly with the Detroit Tigers. In fact, he once won 31 games in a season, in 1968, one of only a handful of players in the history of baseball who have ever won 30 or more.
He was also involved in illegal baseball gambling, bookmaking, mail fraud, and did six years in the joint for ripping off 2.5 million from his company’s pension fund. In fact, he was in and out of prison a few times, including being sentenced to 23 years in the 1980s for drug trafficking, embezzlement, and racketeering, for which he got out after 30 months after winning his appeal. He also doused a couple of sportswriters with buckets of water, filed for bankruptcy three times, was associated with mafia chief John Gotti, was suspended from baseball for carrying a gun on a team flight, smuggled a fugitive out of the country in his plane, and was a golf hustler.
But he was a great pitcher.
I met him in Ottawa in the 1980s at a collectables show and he was very nice. He was also about 300 pounds.
More on our guy – right here