ATLANTA, AUG. 7 -- A lawyer for Denny McLain said he expects baseball's last 30-game winner will be out of prison within 10 days because of a ruling today that threw out his conviction on a series of charges stemming from his arrest for alleged loan sharking.
"Come Monday, we're going to ask the judge to set a bail bond for him," said attorney Arnold Levine of Tampa, Fla. "The mechanics may take a week to 10 days. We hope to have him out very quickly. He's anxious to come back to his family."
Levine phoned McLain, who is in a federal prison in Talledega, Ala. Levine said, "He was thrilled; he started to cry. His immediate reaction was, 'Hey, I've got to call my wife.' "
Today's ruling by the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals entitles McLain to a new trial on charges he was part of a loan-sharking scheme and threatened violence to collect debts.
Levine said he hopes the charges simply will be dropped, citing the 29 months McLain already has served and the expense of repeating a trial that took four months.
McLain, 42, was sentenced to 23 years for racketeering, extortion, conspiracy and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.
The appeals court threw out all those convictions, as well as the racketeering, conspiracy and extortion convictions against codefendant Seymour Sher.
The court said U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich unfairly rushed McLain's 1984 trial in Tampa. The appeals court also faulted the trial prosecutor for insulting a defense lawyer in front of the jury.
McLain's best year in baseball was 1968. With the Detroit Tigers, he went 31-6 with a 1.98 earned-run average and won the AL Cy Young Award.