Tomasik: Denny McLain on Dizzy Dean, Bob Gibson, and the 1968 Cardinals

From SABR member Mark Tomasik at RetroSimba on February 2, 2015:

In the last 85 years, only three pitchers have achieved 30 wins in a season: Denny McLain (31 with 1968 Tigers), Dizzy Dean (30 with 1934 Cardinals) and Lefty Grove (31 with 1931 Athletics).

I met McLain on Jan. 31, 2015, at a sports card show at the American Legion Hall in Sebastian, Fla. Richard Stone, who produces the show the last Saturday of each month, was kind in introducing me to McLain and arranging the interview.

McLain, 70, was friendly, talkative, outspoken.

The pitcher, who used to drink a case of Pepsi a day, said he has dropped 180 pounds, crediting a procedure called bariatric surgery, which removed a portion of his stomach.

In 1968, when he won both the American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young awards, McLain had a 31-6 record, 1.96 ERA and 28 complete games.

He won a second Cy Young Award in 1969, with a 24-9 record, 2.80 ERA and 23 complete games.

McLain was suspended by baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn for part of the 1970 season because of his association with bookmakers. After his playing career, he twice went to prison: the first time on a conviction for racketeering and the second time on a conviction for embezzlement.

Today he is involved in a sports merchandising and memorabilia business at

Here are excerpts from my tape-recorded interview with Denny McLain.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: February 3, 2015. Last Updated: February 3, 2015.