Denny McLain, the Detroit Tigers’ all-star baseball pitcher duped into believing there is a fool-proof system to win on horse race gambling, was set down indefinitely by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn. The commissioner announced that McLain’s candid admission of involvement with a bookmaking ring left the commissioner’s office with “no alternative”. The commissioner also said that baseball was still investigating McLain’s complete role with a Michigan gang of bookmakers, some suspected with Mafia connections.
In a brief, prepared statement, the commissioner soberly noted:
“Mr. McLain’s involvement in 1967 bookmaking activities and his associations at that time leave me with no alternative but to suspend him from all organized baseball activities pending the completion of my review of the situation.”
McLain’s suspension had been anticipated. Only the severity and duration were open to conjecture after McLain had been linked with bookmakers. Though those are still open, fans of the 25-year-old hurler maintain hope as the commissioner added: “It should be made clear that the action taken today is based substantially on the certain admissions made candidly to me by Mr. McLain and not on the allegations contained in a recent magazine article, many of which I believe will prove to be unfounded.” The current edition of Sports Illustrated carries McLain on its cover. The cover caption links McLain with the “mob” and the articles stresses his alleged association with known hoodlums. McLain’s troubles, the article charges, came when he could not pay off $46,000 winnings on a bet placed by one horse player. The article hints that the Mafia ordered McLain to pay off or face usual mob consequences. The article also said that a telephone caller who identified himself as Lou Boudreau, the baseball Hall of Famer who is McLain’s father-in-law, twice tried to intercede with the disgruntled bettor. Boudreau is a WGN and Chicago Cubs sportscaster.
But McLain’s associtions with hoodlums were being probed by Kuhn’s office long before the magazine piece was assembled. The commissioner shared the national fans’ concern over a baseball star who was always in financial difficulty despite a fabulous income. Kuhn announced last Friday, “this office has been reviewing certain off-the-field activities of Denny McLain which occurred in 1967, There is no indication that these activities in any way involved the playing or outcome of baseball games.” Kuhn today said his office would continue to cooperate with investigators working out of Detroit. He said McLain also had pledged cooperation.
“I haven’t got much to say,” commented a somber McLain. He said his immediate plans were to rejoin his wife, Sharyn, and their three children, at their winter home in Lakeland, Fla., which is also the Tigers’ spring training base. Kuhn revealed that a suspension notice already had been mailed to McLain’s home in Beverly Hills, Mich.. The owners of that home have been attempting to evict McLain for alleged failure to pay seven months’ rent.