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Ex-Tigers pitcher McLain sues metal firm over injuries

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Former Detroit Tigers pitching ace Denny McLain is suing a Clarkston company for alleged injuries suffered when a load of railroad ties was dropped on him.

In a lawsuit filed in Oakland Circuit Court, the 71-year-old McLain, who lives with his wife, Sharon, in Livingston County, said he was on the premises of Meyers Metal Fabricating Co. on May 29 when an unnamed person "willfully, recklessly or negligently drove and operated a forklift." The action caused a load of railroad ties to "violently crash" on him, according to the lawsuit.

McLain, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, alleges in his complaint he suffered severe injuries to his mental and physical health, including injuries to his left leg, ankle and foot. The injuries have resulted in ongoing medical and other expenses, and lost income. McLain seeks in excess of $25,000 in the complaint assigned to Judge Denise Langford Morris.

Representatives from Meyers did not return telephone calls Tuesday.

It is the latest chapter in McLain's life, who played for the Tigers between 1963 and 1970 and was a three-time All-Star, two time Cy Young Award winner and the last pitcher in major league baseball to win 30 games (he had a 31-6 record in 1968).

The colorful McLain — who when he wasn't pitching noodled on the organ and bragged of drinking a case of Pepsi a day — made as much noise off the diamond over the years with his often controversial activities and associations, including gambling, drugs and embezzlement. One conviction was overturned after it was determined McLain had not received a fair trial.

He made a record album while in baseball and, after he hung up his spikes for good, wrote a book ("I Told You I Wasn't Perfect"). He made other records he wasn't as proud of — he was suspended from major league baseball twice — once for dousing baseball writers from The Detroit News and Free Press with a bucket of water and again for carrying a gun while he was on probation.

This is not his first foot and leg injury to make news. In 1967 a foot injury — rumored to have been caused when he allegedly welched on a gambling debt — made him miss the final games of the season and possibly cost the Tigers a pennant. McLain always denied someone had stomped on his foot, providing several explanations for his injury, including stumbling after falling asleep watching TV.

In recent years, the once-beloved baseball legend appeared at events, signed autographs for pay and hosted his own radio talk show in Detroit.

He went to prison for six years for his alleged part in a $2.5 million embezzlement of an employee pension fund at a Chesaning meat packing plant. McLain has insisted he knew nothing about the theft.


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