Scott Simon interviewed Denny McLain this morning on NPR’s Weekend Edition.  The occasion was his recent re-marriage to Sharyn Boudreau, his long-suffering but loyal wife.  Denny was his usual charming self, and touched lightly on some of the wrong turns which shaped his life after baseball.  He offered some worthwhile comments about Pete Rose; anyone can see that the two have similar afflictions….

Dennis Dale McLain’s a puzzlement. Something went badly wrong with his life about the end of his baseball career (some people would say earlier), and far too often when he made the news the reasons were pretty frightening.  Where Petey “made mistakes” which hurt baseball’s credibility, Denny “made mistakes” which ruined people’s lives.  I haven’t much sympathy for either of them, but there’s a difference of scale here which cannot be ignored.

McLain’s a talented, funny, apparently intelligent guy.  If he’d gone in for honest work, it seems likely he could have parlayed his baseball fame into a broadcasting career and gotten sufficiently rich to make most folks happy.  Instead, he turned rotten and blights some of Michigan’s favorite memories.

He says the right things about reviving his life, and for all I know he’s seen the light and become a belatedly solid citizen.  I wish him well, but I can’t find it in me to trust him.

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