Tuesday, June 14, 2011
"I Told You I Wasn't Perfect" by Denny McLain
I recently pick up "I Told You I Wasn't Perfect" and read through it pretty quickly. Denny McLain is easily one of the more odd characters in recent baseball.
There is something very likable about him. He is interesting, he has dabbled in flying, business, gambling.... and baseball. In fact, he probably had one of the best seasons a pitcher could possibly have in 1968.
But... there is something very unlikable about him too. He spends time doing some bad things that hurt a lot of people. He spends time in jail. He associates with questionable characters.
He does come off as a family type of guy who loves his wife and kids. You hope Denny McLain, at some point, redeems himself.
In this book, Denny kind of does at the end, after leaving jail. He talks openly about his ego and his need for taking chances.
This book does make you feel some sympathy for Denny in a lot of ways. The death of his daughter is very tragic. The fact that he was such a superstar who takes such a fall is very sad. The fact that at one point he finds himself working at a convenient store is depressing. He was humble about it, but still, you feel bad for him. He was on the cover of every major magazine at one point just a couple of decades earlier.
I met Denny once at a card show in Detroit (see photo). He was very friendly, and seemed happy in general. He was kind to all of the fans. I remember telling him that it was good to see him there. He said that he was glad to be there!
I am all for giving someone a second chance, but Denny seems to get several second chances.
As far as baseball personalities go, Denny is a one of a kind. I like reading about him. I think, a decade from now, people will really be fascinated with him. I would love to chat with Denny about baseball and his life. I would not, however, go in to business with him.
Oh, Denny does talk in this book about his first professional baseball team, the Harlan Smokies! he is not very kind to the people of Harlan at that time (his descriptions of the area and people are not flattering), but it is still great hearing a little about Denny's brief time with that team. He says he throws a no-hitter in his very first game for the team. I like that Kentucky connection!