THREE 1968 BASEBALLS STOLEN
FROM DENNY McLAIN: GAMES 28, 30, 31
Three prized game-pitched baseballs from Denny McLain's 31-6 Cy Young Award-winning 1968 season valued by collectors at between $350,000 and "more than $1 million" have been stolen from a bank vault in New Jersey.
"To me, they're priceless," McLain said.
The Tiger great vows to do whatever it takes to recover the three baseballs from his historic 28th, 30th and 31st wins. McLain, 71, now of Howell in Livingston County, was the last Major League pitcher to win more than 30 games --- a feat most experts think will never again be matched in the big leagues.
Stealing these three balls is "like stealing baseball history," McLain said. Purists compare the theft of baseball memorabilia of this importance to taking a Grammy or Academy Award from a musician or movie star.
Before McLain, the last 30-game winner was Dizzy Dean of the Cardinals in 1934. The last time anyone won more games than McLain was in 1902, when Cy Young won 32 games for the Boston Americans.
Betweeen Dean and McLain, only one player came close to winning 30 games --- Tiger lefthander Hal Newhouser, in 1944, when he won 29.
Lawyer Barry Powers, of the Cranbrook Law Group in Bloomfield Hills, says if anyone tries to sell McLain's prized baseballs on Craigslist, eBay or other sites they will be prosecuted for theft. The balls, Powers says, will be recovered from rogue collectors and returned to McLain "at whatever cost necessary" through aggressive prosecution.
"We're not going to kid around," Powers said. "This is grand theft."
Powers says McLain will use police and the court system to catch and prosecute anyone who tries to buy or sell the balls.
"Even though these balls are rightfully Denny's, even when we find out exactly where they are we will not do what O.J. Simpson did," Powers said. "We'll retrieve the balls lawfully and use the courts to punish thieves and anyone abetting them."