Throughout the years, the great game of baseball has given many fans unadulterated joy, many others stinging hot stomach ulcers. One thing that can be agree upon is that with the fresh start of each new season, players are jumping at the chance to take the field and represent their city. Well, most of them. Some of them are whisked out of the lineup in a flash by some truly strange situations.
#6. Denny McLain
Denny McLain was an All-Star pitcher for the Detroit Tigers in the mid 60’s. He also was the last player to win 30 games in a season, which in an era now when winning 20 games is rare, makes it an ever more remarkable feat.
Speaking of feet, McLain’s own feet were a likely target of the mob.
“Next time we’ll focus on more than just your cuticles, capiche?”
In 1967, the same year Denny missed 13 games with a foot injury, he had opened a bookmaking business based in a Flint, Michigan restaurant. It was called “Denny’s Manicotti and Illegal Wagers”. No, not really.
But the mob was indeed involved. The Syrian mob, which sounds even more evil. The story goes that a gambler won a huge sum in a horse race, an amount that the bookie could not pay out. The bookie suggested that he contact one of his partners in the operation, who was McLain. Several attempts were made for payout, all falling on deaf ears.
Eventually the winner of the horse race contacted mobster Tony Giacolone, who was maybe Italian? Giacolone, being a mobster, politely asked in a calm voice for the money from McLain. And by politely, we mean that he violenty stomped on Denny’s foot, dislocating several toes.
I Googled dislocated toes and immediately vomited in my mouth, so here’s a puppy pooping.
McLain insisted that the injury stemmed from chasing raccoons from his garbage can. Nope, sorry, it was when he kicked a water cooler after being pulled from a game. Shit, that wasn’t it. Finally, he upped the bullshit-ometer and claimed that they dislocated in his sleep, perhaps a dream where his other toes resented the thumb toe, and desperately wanted to make their escape.
Regardless, he missed 13 games in a pivotal part of the season for Detroit. Before that, right around the time of the injury, he basically pitched as good as any of us would be able to do in the major leagues. Which is, terribly. He did return for the very last game of the season, which if he had won, would have propelled them into a one game playoff for the pennant. He blew it.
When Sports Illustrated published the account of this story, Major League Baseball rewarded McLain with a suspension for the first half of the 1970 season. He was never able to achieve his former glory.
#5. Pascual Perez
The Atlanta Braves team of 1982 had a blue-chip pitching prospect by the name of Pascual Perez. A righthander from the Dominican Republic, he joined the team in July of that year. While he had a rocket for an arm, he also had the navigating skills of Ferdinand Magellan. No, not Magellan from the early 1500’s, that guy could find a runaway pubic lice. We’re talking about present day Magellan, the pile of bones. That kind of directional ability.
August 19th, 1982, Perez missed a crucial start for the Braves. Not because of tendonitis, or swimmer’s ear, or any of that. He got fucking lost. While attempting to find the stadium in Atlanta in a rented car, he got uber-confused on the local perimeter freeway, and actually went clear around the whole entire damn city three times, before he ultimately ran out of gas. Hilarity ensued.
#4. Joel Zumaya
We’ve mostly all played the Guitar Hero or Rock Band series. The worst case outcome of playing them is that you look up after a long session, and the wall and decor of your living room start Dreamscaping away from you at light speed. But then it passes.
Joel Zumaya of the Detroit Tigers played Guitar Hero for so long that he actually suffered inflammation in the wrist and forearm of his pitching hand. Which is a strong hand. Zumaya’s fastball has been clocked at over 100 mph. At 22 years old, he was a reliable pitcher for the Tigers in the late innings of ballgames. That is, until the injury. Which couldn’t have happened at a worse time, as the team was in the American League Championship Series. Joel was forced to miss three games, and to promise to not pick up his toy guitar until the offseason.
#3. Kendrys Morales
One of the most exciting endings to a baseball game is the aptly named “walk off” homerun, knocking the ball out of the park to instantly win the game. In recent years, it’s even gotten slightly violent, with the whole team gathering around home plate to greet the man that won the game for them, and then slapping the shit out of him.
Seconds later, this man was murdered, no trace of his body found
Kendry Morales accomplished this feat, with a grand slam to boot, in May 2010. He trotted around the bases, basking in the glory of victory….he rounded third base, approaching home plate and his adoring teammates….he flung his helmet aside, confident in his will to succeed and banishment of evil everywhere….he jumped in the air joyously, landed on home plate….
And broke his goddamn leg.
He missed the entire rest of the season.
#2. Vince Coleman
Vince Coleman is inarguably one of the fastest men to don a MLB uniform. A natural speedster, he was the bane of pitchers and social workers alike, swiping bases at record paces. While he was too fast to be contained by the sport of baseball, he was a little slow when it came to avoiding rain tarpaulins.
In game 4 of the 1985 National Championship Series, Coleman was working out on the field with the St. Louis Cardinals before the 1st inning. The weather grew ominous, rain clouds gathering at a rapid pace. As it began to precipitate, the mechanical rain tarp began to deploy, commencing to covering the entire field. And the soul of Vince Coleman.
“Was someone going to TELL me that the facts of life were all about me?”
Coleman was enveloped in the slaughter-hug of the tarp, rolling over his legs. He suffered a chipped bone in his knee, a bruised leg, and an enthusiastic death knell call from fringe rain-tarp militia groups worldwide. He missed the entire remainder of the playoffs, a playoff year in which the Cardinals would go on to the World Series.
#1. Glenallen Hill
No one likes spiders. Don’t fucking lie. They are the misfits that were created when God was all finished making everything, and had a bunch of legs and eyes and demon jizz left over.
But we think Glenallen Hill hates them a little bit more than we do. In July 1990, when he was playing for the Toronto Blue Jays, he missed a game, due to the blood curdling previous night he had. He was asleep, when he was approached by a nightmare brought to him by spiders. As they were spiders, he had no choice, and was thrust into the depths of a sleep-hell that cannot be imagined.
A close number two.
Hill, who had a gripping phobia of spiders, commenced to an attempt at sleep-running away from them. This resulted in him not only plowing through a glass table, cutting the shit out of himself as he crawled through the shards, but in him bouncing off the walls and hurtling up the 10 steps in his apartment, all while in REM sleep. He awoke on the couch with his wife screaming at him to wake up.
“Also, you’re teeming with spiders.”