ANDREW WOOLLEY on DICK ALLEN
Does Dick Allen belong in the Hall of Fame? If you listen to Dick Allen talk on the subject, it is obvious he doesn’t really care one way or the other.
If you ask to his former teammates, peers and coaches, most will answer… YES, he belongs.
My answer? Absolutely.
So why? Why isn’t this guy already in Cooperstown? Most people will point to his attitude, his infamous reputation, or his rebellious nature. Rarely do his detractors point to talent or production. It is always something that happened off the field. Most of it is bullshit.
To me the nagging questions are this: What if Dick Allen had played in a different era? What if Dick Allen played in a different racial climate? What if Dick Allen had been trained on how to talk with the media? What if he played for a franchise that knew how to manage and protect star players? What if he enjoyed a fanbase not poisoned by decades of bad baseball?
I decided to sit down and change some things.
Dick Allen: A Career Edited
“Fifteen years after Jackie Robinson broke the major league color barrier in Brooklyn, we have asked Richard Allen to help baseball take yet another step in the long journey of integrating our great game," said Phillies president Bob Carpenter. “This is America. As an organization we are committed to the security for our entire team. We will work with federal and local law enforcement to ensure the safety for all our players. I pray the law abiding fans of Little Rock will support us and enjoy a great summer of baseball in peace."
The club has contracted with private firm to deliver around-the-clock protection. This is in addition to increased game-day security already planned.
"When I look at our roster...I don't see black, white, purple or green. I see Phillies. Part of our responsibility to these young men is to ensure they can play baseball and live in a safe and comfortable environment."
“Allen has spent his entire professional minor career in the outfield. He is a fantastic athlete. He was more than willing to help the team in any way he could and he made significant strides,” said Phils Manager Gene Mauch “but defensively, third base is such a demanding position. We felt it was in the best interests of the club and Dick to keep him at his natural position.”
“Dick Allen is a once in a generation player. We are very happy with him. We think he has potential to help our team this year. We want to get him as many at bats as we can,” added Phils General Manager Bob Quinn.
“I would trade all the individual awards in the world for a chance to play in the World Series. To me, baseball is a team game. This award is really an award to my teammates and the season we just had. We fell a little short, but we will be back next season working to win it all"
The Phillies sat on top of the NL standings for most of the summer, before slipping in the last two weeks of the season. The club finished in second place with a 90-72 record.
According to witnesses: Callison and Allen were joking with Thomas regarding his failed attempt to bunt during their last game. Thomas got upset and lashed out at Allen with an offensive racial slur. Allen retaliated by punching Thomas. Before teammates could separate the two, Thomas swung a bat and hit Allen in the shoulder. It is not known if Allen was seriously injured. He played the entire game following the incident.
Following the news of the move, Phils veteran Johnny Callison stated “I’ve been in this game for a long time. During a long season, it is not uncommon for teammates to argue…fights happen. It's not uncommon for a few punches to fly. But there is a code in baseball: You don’t swing a bat at another player. EVER.”
During the post-game press conference Phillies manager Gene Mauch said “after a thorough investigation of the incident, we have come to the decision to take our roster in another direction. We want to thank Frank Thomas for his contributions. I wish him luck.”
When asked about Allen’s contribution to the fight, Mauch added “I’ve talked to Dick. I can tell you he regrets this entire situation. Keep this in mind…. As talented as he is, Allen is still only a second year ballplayer. I can tell you this, Allen is one of the best we have on this team, but more importantly, Dick Allen is a proud man. He was standing up for himself... I believe he reacted just the way you or I would have."
“I assure you this," Mauch continued, "Dick Allen didn’t get Frank Thomas released…Frank Thomas got Frank Thomas released.”
Philadelphia Post - August 1967: Philadelphia Phillies All-Star slugger Dick Allen suffered a career threatening injury last night after he badly cut his hand and wrist working on his car. It happened following the Phillies/Pirates rain out. Outside his Philadelphia home, Allen began working on his old 1950 Ford. At some point he attempted to push the car from the curb, slipped on the wet road surface, and fell as his hand and wrist smashed the headlight. Following five hours of emergency surgery, the doctors at the hospital were guardedly optimistic.
Phillies public relations representative Larry Shenk “As an organization, we want to thank the great Phillies fans for their outpouring of concern and well wishes for Dick Allen. We especially want to send our prayers and well wishes to the entire Allen family as they cope with this accident. We look forward to having #15 return to the team and his rightful place as the backbone of our batting order.”
For the White Sox, Allen is expected to add some much needed power to the young White Sox lineup. Regarded as one of the top sluggers in baseball, Allen played six seasons with the Phillies before he was traded to the Cardinals following the 1969 season. He spent one season in Los Angeles.
Introduced at a press conference in Chicago, Allen smiled "I am excited about coming to Chicago and playing for the White Sox. I've spent my entire career in the National League. I look forward to learning and introducing myself to the pitchers in the AL. I can't wait to get started."
He was named the AL MVP in 1972. He missed half of the 1973 season with a broken leg. Despite missing the final three weeks of the 1974 season, Allen still led the American League in home runs.
“When I retired last fall, I really thought I was done. But the truth is, I still love to play this game and I really missed it. I feel great right now and the Phillies were very convincing. I am looking forward to playing with Mike Schmidt, Dave Cash, Greg Luzinski, and the rest of these Phils.”
To make room for Allen at first base, the Phillies also announced they have traded Willie Montanez to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for outfielder Garry Maddox. Phillies GM Paul Owens commented, “We are making these moves because we believe we can improve our club. I am very happy to welcome Dick Allen home to Philadelphia where he belongs.”
“It is great to be back in Philadelphia with this team and these fans," Allen said. "I can’t really put into words how it felt to be welcomed in such a warm manner to the place I started my big league career. We have a very talented ballclub. I am excited to be part of this team.”
After the celebration and without a playoff roster spot available, the Phillies announced they have added veteran Tony Taylor to their coaching staff. Taylor will be in uniform and in the dugout when the playoffs begin.
Allen played for the Phillies from 1963-1969 and returned for the 1975-76 seasons. He was their regular first baseman on the 1976 Eastern Division Champions.
Credited with helping change the course of baseball in Philadelphia, Allen was the first professional African American ballplayer in Arkansas history.
He was the first African American rookie to win a starting position with the club, and was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1964. That season he hit .318 with 29 home runs and 91 RBI. He led the league with 13 triples and 125 runs scored. Allen amassed a .292 career average with 351 home runs and 1,119 RBI over his 15 seasons in the Majors.
He is the only player to win Rookie of the Year and MVP not to be enshrined in Cooperstown. “I am humbled by this,” Allen said. “I want to take this opportunity to thank the Phillies and the fans.”
Regardless of what his wife may think, Andy Woolley manages Dick Allen Hall of Fame in his spare time. Launched in 2004 as a way to pay homage to his childhood baseball hero; DAHOF now serves a window into the soul of this hopeless baseball addict.
In 1976, Woolley set the single season Lakeshore Little League record for lowest batting average (.000) - a mark mathematically guaranteed to stand forever. A former US Marine, tech industry veteran and recovering Phillies fan, he Andy is also a passionate baseball photographer. His images have been published in books, newspapers, magazines and a growing stack of baseball cards. After recently sending two kids to college, Woolley lives with his wife in their quiet and empty Austin, Texas home.
You can find DAHOF on the web, follow him on Twitter, and like him on Facebook. You can also browse Andy’s baseball photography on the web or Facebook.