The former All-Star pitcher used writing to deal with his daughter’s death.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NILES — Sure, Denny McLain would love to be 25 years old and still in his pitching prime.
McLain, who won 131 games in a 10-year major league career with the Detroit Tigers, including a 31-6 record in 1968, is traveling around minor league baseball cities these days promoting his latest book “I told You I wasn’t Perfect.”
“The money that these guys make now is almost indecent,” said McLain. “In 10 years in the major leagues I earned a total of $440,000 and the minimum these guys make right now is $400,000.”
But McLain has no gripes about what he earned nearly 40 years ago when he was a three-time All-Star and two-time Cy Young Award winner.
Besides being the last pitcher in major league baseball to win 30 games, McLain also built a little suspense in his playing days as he was known for his off-field behavior.
“It was all a bunch of lies that they made up,” McLain said laughing. “I did have some fun while I was playing.”
He was suspended twice by major league commissioner Bowie Kuhn.
Dealing with past
McLain has served time for some of his crimes that included racketeering, extortion, narcotics, theft and money laundering, all of which he wrote about in his first two books.
His latest book is about a lot of the former players that he played with and against and it also contains the sad story of the death of his daughter 15 years ago.
“That was the one thing that I thought I would never recover from,” he said. “I got through drugs and prison, but losing her really sent me for a loop.”
At first McLain didn’t want to write about his daughter and his therapist said to do it and if he didn’t like it after to burn it.
“It turned out to be the best therapy that I could have had,” he said.
McLain will spend the next 20 days touring minor league baseball cities. Niles was the first stop.
“If the rest of the tour is like this it is going to be great; I’ve never been treated any better than I’ve been here,” he added.
Not much difference
McLain said that today’s pitchers are not really all that much different than in his days.
“We both threw 100 pitches in a game, only we did it in nine innings and they do it in five,” he added.
“I don’t know who ever told these guys that when you get a batter 0-and-2, to waste a pitch or two, sometimes even three,” he said.
“When we got somebody down 0-and-2, we went right after them. These guys also have decided they need to throw a changeup when they are ahead of the hitters.”
McLain said that the only thing he doesn’t like about today’s game is the designated hitter. “All it does is prolong the hitting careers of some players. If you are going to do it then do it in both leagues.”
McLain says when he isn’t traveling with the book, he still works in telecommunication business and enjoys spending time with his seven grandchildren and his wife.