DETROIT — Louisiana authorities on Monday dropped a bid to extradite former Detroit Tigers star Denny McLain, major league baseball’s last 30-game winner, for trial in a dispute over a scrap metal sale.
McLain won the 1968 American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young awards after winning 31 games and leading Detroit to the World Series. He had six losses that season.
McLain, 67, had a bumpy ride after leaving baseball with repeated legal problems, including a racketeering conviction that was reversed on appeal. He was convicted in 1996 for stealing money from a pension fund and served six years in prison.
The warrant that led to his latest arrest was issued Aug. 26 and grew out of the sale of scrap metal in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
“Mr. McLain had a joint business venture in Louisiana with another person and did not fully compensate for the scrap metal or scrap iron that was brought to their business,” St. Charles Parish sheriff’s spokesman Dwayne LaGrange said last month. “We had several complaints, so the warrant was issued.”
The matter came to a head Sept. 22 after U.S. Customs and Border Protection learned of the warrant when McLain mistakenly drove onto the Blue Water Bridge, about 60 miles northeast of Detroit. The bridge connects Port Huron to Sarnia, Ontario.
McLain became disoriented during construction and turned around before entering Canada, U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Jeffery Wilson said at the time.
“He was an accidental fugitive,” said Grand Rapids lawyer Joshua Fahlsing, who is representing McLain. “Had he known the warrant was out there, he would have taken steps to clear it up. Once he learned of the warrant, he was pro-active in resolving the issue.”
An extradition hearing was scheduled for Tuesday in Port Huron. But on Monday, McLain’s lawyers got a letter from prosecutors in St. Charles Parish saying they were withdrawing a request that McLain be sent to Louisiana.
“We’re just pleased it’s over with,” McLain told the Detroit Free Press. It’s something that should have never, ever, ever happened.”
Craig Mordock, a New Orleans lawyer also representing McLain, said he believes the dispute has been settled.
“This matter was a civil case. Unfortunately, the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office took the drastic step of issuing an arrest warrant,” Mordock said. “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.”
McLain played in the majors from 1963 to 1972 and had a 131-91 record with a .339 earned run average. He had stints with the Tigers, Washington Senators, Oakland Athletics and Atlanta Braves.