September 19, 2013

Video: Today in Tigers History: McLain Wins #31, Surrenders Mantle’s #535

On this date in 1968, Denny McLain earned his 31st win and along the way, grooved nothing but heat* to Mickey Mantle, helping The Mick hit his 535th career homer.

Five years ago, in a nod to the 40th anniversary of that 31-win season, The New York Daily News caught up with McLain:

Who has only two of his own teeth, could pass for a sumo wrestler and yet still eats a pack of Twinkies most every day?

Turns out that Dennis Dale McLain is still pitching after all these years. It’s just not fastballs and curves anymore, and not with his signature leg kick.

“I am who I am,” McLain says. “I’m not going to change after 64 years. I get up every day and do Denny.”

On that night 45 years go, before just 9,063 at Tiger Stadium, McLain went the distance in the Tigers’ 6-2 win – the club’s 99th of the season.

Here’s Mantle telling his side of the story:

*From Baseball-Reference: McLain allegedly calls catcher Jim Price** out and tells him to inform Mantle he’s throwing the slugger nothing but fastballs. The home run gives Mantle undisputed hold of third place on the all-time home run list. Mantle tips his cap to McLain as he rounds third base. Joe Pepitone, the next
batter, signals where he would like the ball, and McLain dusts him. The Tigers win the game, 6-2, the 12th straight complete game for the Tigers staff.

**Price went 0 for 4.

 

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