Sunday, June 12, 2016

Spotlight On: Dick Allen, Hall Of Fame Hopeful

Topps 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1978, football-style

Perhaps the most deserving of any former professional athlete who has not been inducted to the Hall Of Fame is Major League Baseball star Dick Allen.  Websites, blogs, and many an article have devoted time and space to this topic and RetroCards is weighing in on Dick Allen.  Here's some background on Mr. Allen:

Career

Allen has impressive career numbers: .292 lifetime batting average, .534 slugging percentage, and an on base percentage of .378.  He was known for his amazing power (351 home runs) and ability for tape measure home runs that are calculated as some of the longest ever hit.  He won Rookie Of The Year honors in 1964 and an MVP award in 1972 and has the distinction of hitting two inside the park home runs in the same game.

The Detractors

Although his lifetime averages are impressive, the fact he only played 15 seasons and therefore his totals aren't on par with other Hall Of Famers, has hurt him.  If one looks at other Hall Of Famers with long careers you’ll find multiple seasons where those players were past their prime and were able to pad their number in their twilight years. Allen also had some minor controversies surrounding him during his career

Despite being Rookie Of The Year in 1964 and making the All-Star team from 1965-1967 as Philadelphia Phillie, he was often booed by the hometown crowd.  A locker room fight with teammate Frank Thomas ended with Thomas being cut from the team.  Fans sided with the popular Thomas, leaving Allen as somewhat of a scapegoat.  It has been suggested that Philly fans and writers, long known for being tough on home town players, were upset because a white player got cut in favor of a black player. 

Philadelphia fans showed their lack of support to Allen by throwing objects at him regularly along with abusing him with racial slurs and obscenities. He started wearing his batting helmet in the field after being showered with food, ice, garbage, and batteries!  This is reportedly were his nickname “Crash” came from.

There was also controversy over his first name.  Known as "Dick" since childhood, upon arriving in the majors, he was referred to as “Ritchie” for unknown reasons.  This was a source of distain for Allen as he felt the name Ritchie was a “little boys name.”  When he arrived in St. Louis in 1970 the team acknowledged his name as “Dick” for the first time in his career.

After one year in Los Angeles, he was traded to the Chicago White Sox in 1972 where he proceeded to have his finest season. Which was the first of three straight All-Star seasons (1972-1974).  His time in Chicago ended in controversy when he left the team with two weeks left in the 1974 season.  According to his autobiography, Allen blamed his feud with hometown favorite Ron Santo, who was riding out his career as a reason for leaving.  The White Sox sold his contract to the Braves.  Instead of reporting to the Braves, Allen retired. 

His retirement was short-lived as the Phillies convinced him to play in 1975.  His numbers were down but he was still hitting with respectable power.  His career petered out with a final season in Oakland (1977) in which he left the team with more than half the season left to play.

• Despite rumors to the contrary, several players and managers including Willie Stargell, Orlando Cepeda, Rich Gossage, Mike Schmidt, Gene Mauch, and Chuck Tanner are some of the supporters of Allen’s positive clubhouse attitude, willingness to help mold young players, and ability to come through in clutch situations.

• During Allen's time with the Sixties-era Phillies, he sang lead with a doo-wop group called the Ebonistics.  Dick Allen and The Ebonistics sang professionally at Philadelphia night clubs. He once entertained during halftime of a Philadelphia 76ers game.

RetroCards has created several custom cards to fill in some gaps in Dick Allen’s card career and to call attention to a great player who deserves special recognition whether you believe he is Hall Of Fame worthy or not.

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