What Denny McLain's Life In Prison Was Really Like

Denny McLain, a former Major League Baseball pitcher for teams including the Detroit Tigers, isn't the first player in the history of the league to show the MLB's darker side. Per a biography from ESPN, McLain faced numerous suspensions during his playing career as well, though it wasn't until after his time on the field ended that he became involved in the activities that led to his time in prison. McLain was first sentenced in 1985 to a lengthy 23 years in prison on numerous charges, which the Los Angeles Times reported included drug dealing, extortion, and racketeering. Fortunately for McLain, ESPN notes that his 23-year sentence was then adjusted to 12 years, at which point he ended up serving no additional time but five years of probation.

That wasn't the end of McLain's run-ins with the law, however. ESPN writes that he was convicted on charges that included conspiracy and money laundering in relation to a separate case in December 1996. For those charges, per ESPN, McLain was sentenced to eight years in prison. At the time of the ESPN publication, McLain had been released from his second prison stint after serving about six years of his sentence.

Given that he was imprisoned two separate times, it isn't hard to wonder what the experience was like for McLain.

McLain might have crossed paths with a mafia member

Per publisher Triumph Books, Denny McLain co-wrote an autobiography called "I Told You I Wasn't Perfect," published in April 2007. The publisher's website writes in its book description that McLain once became friends with mafia member John Gotti's oldest son, John Gotti Jr., while the two were behind bars together. But in a 2014 article published by Deadline Detroit, mentioning a quote published by Playboy Magazine, McLain denied knowing Gotti.

What we know for sure about McLain's time in prison, then, is limited, as it does not seem that he has discussed his experiences at length. McLain's prison stint was served at Pennsylvania's McKean Federal Correctional Institution. Per the Federal Bureau of Prisons, FCI McKean, as it is known, is a medium-security facility, and The Spokesman-Review reported in 1998 that McLain was serving his time in the prison camp there.

After his release from FCI McKean, McLain resided in a halfway house in Detroit, Michigan, and worked at a 7-Eleven convenience store, per ESPN.

Denny McLain got in trouble with the law after prison

While prison might be thought to deter people from getting into trouble with the law after they've served their time, that doesn't appear to have been the case for Denny McLain. In April 2008, he was jailed for missing a court appearance, per ESPN.

That wasn't the end of McLain's legal woes, either. He was arrested again in 2011, per SB Nation Detroit, after it was reported that he accidentally crossed the border from Michigan into Canada, at which point authorities pulled up an arrest warrant for him out of the state of Louisiana. Yahoo Sports later reported that the relevant authorities in Louisiana decided not to extradite McLain. The article quoted McLain's lawyer, Craig Mordock, as saying, "We're pleased the St. Charles District Attorney's Office, when presented with the facts, saw things differently and allowed Mr. McLain to resolve the matter with the other parties in lieu of a criminal prosecution."

Since his legal issues in Louisiana, it does not appear that McLain has gotten into any more legal trouble, though. Rather, the Detroit Free Press reported in a September 2020 article that McLain would be holding an estate sale following the death of his wife.