Denny McLain recalls the day of his 30th victory
HOF: How about having the previous 30-game winner, Dizzy Dean, at the game?
DM: I was joking with him before the game about his language. I said, ‘Diz, I hope I don’t get a chance to slud into third today.’ He laughed and said, ‘Yup, you don’t want to slud into third on the day you want to win 30, because you might break your ankle.’ He was so considerate and so charming in the sense that I would think most players might be jealous, but there wasn’t an ounce of that with Dizzy. And I did something that Saturday that I had never done in my major league career: Talked to the media before a game I was starting. I never, ever did that once before in my life. It was a great time in my life. There was a lot of opportunity coming my way and the struggle to pay the mortgage was about to end.
HOF: Looking back, what first comes to mind about the day of the 30th win?
DM: I can encapsulate it pretty quick. When I got to my home on Saturday afternoon after the 30th win, there was a brand new Ford Thunderbird in my driveway, there was a brand new Cadillac in my driveway, and there was a brand new Chrysler in my driveway. That’s how you spell success in the major leagues, when all three Detroit car companies wind up giving you a car. It was unbelievable. As Dizzy would say, ‘Who would have ever thunk it?’
HOF: Finally, what are your thoughts on Cooperstown after having been here many times over the years?
DM: I think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. If you have never been there you are absolutely missing out. You don’t have to be a baseball fan to enjoy it. Just the history is worth the trip to Cooperstown. And don’t plan on just one day – it’s a two- or three-day trip. I call it Disney World for adults. I’ve been there probably 15 years in a row now, and I love it. My first trip was when my wife’s father, Lou Boudreau, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1970.
Bill Francis is the senior research and writing specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum