Today in Sports History: September 14th

9/14/1968 - McLain wins his 30th game

The Detroit Tigers defeat the Oakland Athletics 5-4 in Tiger Stadium, and getting the win is starting pitcher Denny McLain, who improves his pitching record to 30-5. McLain was the first pitcher to win 30 games in a year since Dizzy Dean of the St. Louis Cardinals did it in 1934; he would be the last player to accomplish this feat in the 20th century.

McLain had one of the most extraordinary seasons of all time, going 31-6 in 41 starts with 21 complete games, six shutouts, 280 strikeouts, 336 innings pitched, and a 1.96 ERA. For his incredible year, McLain became the first player in the American League to win the MVP and the Cy Young award in the same season.

The next year, he went 24-9 and again won the Cy Young, this time sharing it with Mike Cuellar of the Baltimore Orioles. After that it was all downhill. McLain was just 24 years old when he won 31 games in 1968, yet it didn't take long for the incredible toll of his workload to catch up with him. From 1970 to 1972, McLain was downright awful. Having tarnished his right arm, he led the league with 22 losses in 1971 and spent the final years of his career with the Texas Rangers, Oakland A's, and Atlanta Braves.

Off the field, McLain was even more chaotic. Over the course of the next forty years, McLain bounced in and out of prison for crimes such as racketeering, extortion, cocaine possession, embezzlement, mail fraud and theft, and his weight even ballooned to over 300 pounds. He would later write an autobiography titled: "I Told You I Wasn't Perfect."

9/14/1985 - O'Dowd struggles at Yankee Stadium

An important divisional series between the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Yankees was overshadowed by the Canadian National Anthem, of all things.

It was September 1985, and the Yankees entered the home series just 2.5 games behind Jays in the American League. New York got off to a good start in the first game, winning 7-5 and reducing Toronto's lead to just a game-and-a-half. But there was an enormous amount of heckling during the Canadian National Anthem, which most people agreed was utterly uncalled for. Prior to the start of the second game, Yankee Stadium public address announcer Bob Sheppard reminded the Bronx fans that the Canadians were an ally to the U.S. and that they had helped them out in the Iranian hostage crisis. Once again, a majority of the fans responded by booing during their neighbor's anthem. Toronto won that game, 3-2.

Minutes before the start of the third game, American singer Mary O'Dowd stepped to the plate, ready to belt out the words of the Canadian anthem. If ever there was a time when a great rendition of the tune was needed, this was it. Unfortunately, O'Dowd was not prepared to perform in front of 50,000 people. After briefly singing it as if it was the American the Beautiful, O'Dowd stopped, apologized to the crowd, and walked back to one of the dugouts, where she searched for music sheets with the proper lyrics. Once again the crowd was booing, and this time they had a reason too. Even after O'Dowd returned to the field, her rendition remained off-tune.

Afterward, O'Dowd called to apologize to Toronto mayor Art Eggleton. "I've sung at Carnegie Hall," she said to reporters. "I'm not a baby. What happened should not have happened. But I've never sung at a stadium. It was very overwhelming. I went blank."

Toronto won the final three games of the series to wrap up the series and the American League East. They later lost the American League Championship Series to the Kansas City Royals in seven games.

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