It has been 50 years since Denny McLain’s epic pitching display helped the Detroit Tigers win the pennant, and eventually the World Series in 1968.
And as the Tigers prepare to celebrate that historic team — starting with Friday’s series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals at Comerica Park — it’s safe to say McLain’s legacy remains complicated.
The right-hander was a fireballer on the mound for most of his 10-year career. He twice won the Cy Young Award, and he’s still the last pitcher to win 30 games in a single season.
It’s true his post-baseball life has been marred by controversy and sorrow — including felony convictions in 1985 and 1996 that resulted in prison terms — but McLain still holds a unique spot in Tigers lore for his accomplishment, even if it hasn’t been widely recognized since his retirement.