Denny McLain appears on number 210 of Topps' 1972 set.
Although this is a Rangers card, Denny never threw an inning for Texas. He spent the 1971 season with the Washington Senators but was traded by the team before the start of the 1972 season.
What got me to thinking about McLain today? Well, Sidney Ponson did. Both pitchers had potential. One managed to blow it all and the other appears to be on his way to doing so because of their off-field activities.
McLain was the last 30 game winner in the majors. He won 31 games in 1968 while posting a 1.96 ERA. Credited with assisting the Tigers to the Series he pitched three games, losing two to Bob Gibson but winning the third to set up game seven. That resulted in a championship for Detroit. Four years later he was out of baseball. A bad attitude, serious legal troubles, and a suspicious injury all contributed. Even in retirement Denny struggled. Bankruptcy, more legal troubles, and prison time followed. In April of this year Denny was arrested again. Apparently his learning curve is pretty flat.
Sir Sidney appears to be having almost as hard a time. After legal trouble in both the U.S. and his native Aruba he was released by Baltimore. Two hard seasons followed before he inked a minor league contract with Texas and was invited to Spring Training this year. A remarkable comeback followed. On June 6th his record stood at 4-1 and he had posted a 3.88 ERA. On that day Texas designated him for assignment. A bad attitude and off-field shenanigans seem to have struck him out as surely as if he had been facing Denny McLain in 1968.