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Dick Allen

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Dick Allen
Dick Allen
Infielder
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB Debut
September 3, 1963 for the Philadelphia Phillies
Final game
June 19, 1977 for the Oakland Athletics
Career Statistics
Slugging Percentage     .534
OPS     .912
Home Runs     351
Teams
Career Highlights and Awards
  • All-Star (NL): 1965-1967, 1970, 1972-1974
  • Rookie of the Year (NL): 1964
  • MVP (AL): 1972
  • In his rookie season, he led the league in triples, runs scored, total bases, extra-base hits and strikeouts
  • Led the league in RBI's in 1972, in extra-base hits in 1966 and 1972, in slugging percentage in 1966, 1972, 1974 and on-base percentage in 1967 and 1972

Richard Anthony '"""Richie"""' Allen (born March 8 1942, in Wampum, Pennsylvania) is a former first, third baseman, and outfielder and right-handed batter in Major League Baseball who was known as one of the sport's top power hitters of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Most notably playing for the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago White Sox, he led the American League in home runs twice, and led both leagues in slugging average (the AL twice) and on base percentage. His .534 career slugging average was among the highest in an era marked by low averages. The 1964 National League Rookie of the Year and 1972 AL MVP, his mercurial personality led to a series of suspensions, fights and disputes which marred his career, and his uncertain and often disinterested defensive play led to his leading the league in errors four times - twice each at third and first base. His free-swinging batting style caused him to lead the NL in strikeouts in his first two seasons; he retired with the fifth most strikeouts in history.

His older brother Hank was a reserve outfielder for three AL teams, and his younger brother Ron was briefly a first baseman with the 1972 St. Louis Cardinals.

Phillies years Edit

Allen was an immensely talented slugger, perhaps the best pure hitter Philadelphia had ever seen until the emergence of Mike Schmidt and later Ryan Howard, whose considerable skills were only rivaled by his juvenile antics and ability to infuriate everyone from teammates, to managers, to fans. The Phillies saw his potential immediately and signed him up in 1960 for a large $60,000 bonus. His career got off to a turbulent start as he faced racial harassment while playing for the Phillies' minor league affiliate in Little Rock; residents staged protest parades against Allen, the local team's first black player. He nevertheless led the league in total bases.


File:Richie allen1965.jpg

His first full year in the majors in 1964 was a great one, as he led the league in runs (125), triples (13), extra base hits (80) and total bases (352); he finished in the top five in batting average (.318), slugging average (.557), hits (201), and doubles (38); and garnered Rookie of the Year honors. But it was not a perfect year. Playing for the first time at third base, he had a league-leading 41 errors, and he was often given much of the blame by sportswriters for the Phillies' pennant swoon that year, as they lost the pennant by a single game after holding a 6 1/2 game lead with 12 to play, then losing ten in a row (even though Allen hit .438 with 5 doubles, 2 triple, 3 home runs and 11 RBI in those last two weeks). The Phillies' manager Gene Mauch was also criticized for his mishandling of his pitching staff in the last two weeks of the season.

Allen was one of the top power hitters of the 1960s, a period when baseball was dominated by pitchers. In those years before muscle-building dietary supplements came into use, he was built like Mickey Mantle or Jimmie Foxx, and likewise hit some very long home runs. He used a 44 ounce bat, bucking the Ted Williams-inspired trend of using a light bat for increased bat speed, and relied on his massive arm strength to drive the ball. One memorable shot went over the left-center field roof at Connie Mack Stadium, a truly Ruthian blast that was the basis of Willie Stargell's noted quote: "Now I know why they (the Phillies fans) boo Richie all the time. When he hits a home run, there's no souvenir."

Although Allen enjoyed several good years in Philadelphia, making All-Star teams from 1965-67 and leading the league in slugging (.632), OPS (1.027) and extra base hits (75) in 1966, he quickly wore out his welcome due to erratic behavior. He got in a fistfight with the popular Phillie Frank Thomas in July 1965, gashed his throwing hand by pushing it through a[hhttp://www.supremeautoparts.com/category-auto-lights.php tail lights] on August 24, 1967, and earned a 26-game suspension in June 1969 after being stopped by police for erratic driving, and showing up late to a doubleheader; he also began drinking heavily.


Even Allen's name was a source of controversy: he had been known since his youth as "Dick" to family and friends, but for reasons which are somewhat obscure at this late date, the media referred to him upon his arrival in Philadelphia as "Richie," possibly a conflation with the longtime Phillies star Richie Ashburn. After several years, he asked to be called "Dick," saying Richie was a little boy's name.

The Phillies' Boo Bird fans, known for being tough on hometown players even in the best of times, exacerbated Allen's problems. Initially the abuse was verbal, with obscenities and racial epithets. Eventually Allen was greeted with showers of fruit, ice, refuse, and even flashlight batteries as he took the field. He began wearing his batting helmet even while playing his defensive position in the field, which gave rise to another nickname, "Crash Helmet", shortened to "Crash".

One of Dick Allen's most infuriating moments to fans was on June 24, 1969. Allen is fined $2,500 and suspended indefinitely when he fails to appear for the Phillies twi-night doubleheader game with the Mets. Allen had gone to New Jersey in the morning to see a horse race and got caught in traffic trying to return.

Quick stops in St. Louis and L.A. Edit

The Phillies finally had enough, and they sent him to the Cardinals in a trade before the 1970 season. Even this deal caused controversy, though not of Allen's making, since the outfielder Curt Flood refused to report to the Phillies as part of the trade. (Flood then sued baseball in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the reserve clause and to be declared a free agent.)

Allen earned another All-Star berth in St. Louis, and his personal problems seemed to abate. The Cardinals even acceded to his wishes regarding his name, as Cardinals broadcaster Jack Buck made a point from game one of calling him Dick Allen.

Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst recalled that when he was asked, before Allen's acquisition, if he wanted Allen, he had said "no", he'd heard Allen had a bad attitude, and the team didn't need him. After the season, when Schoendienst was asked if Allen should be traded, he said "no", Allen had helped the team and his attitude was not a problem.

Decades before Mark McGwire, Dick Allen entertained the St. Louis fans with some long home runs, at least one of them landing in the seats above the club level in left field. As Jack Buck said at the time, "Some of the folks in the stadium club might have choked on a chicken leg when they saw that one coming!" Nevertheless the Cardinals traded Allen to the Los Angeles Dodgers before the 1971 season.

Chicago Edit

After a relatively quiet year with the Dodgers, Allen was traded to the White Sox for Tommy John prior to the 1972 season. For various reasons, Allen's previous managers had shuffled him around on defense, playing him at first base, third base, and the outfield in no particular order - a practice which almost certainly weakened his defensive play and which may have contributed to his frequent injuries, not to mention his perceived bad attitude. Sox manager Chuck Tanner's low-key style of handling ballplayers made it possible for Allen to thrive, for awhile, on the South Side. He decided to play Allen exclusively at first base, which allowed him to concentrate on hitting. That first year, Allen almost single-handedly lifted the entire team to a division title, as he led the league in home runs (37) (setting a team record), RBI (113), walks (99), on base percentage (.422), slugging average (.603), and OPS (1.023), while winning a well-deserved MVP award. However, the Sox fell short at the end and finished 5 1/2 games behind the World Series-bound Oakland Athletics.

Allen continued his power hitting unabated, sending unlucky pitchers' fastballs to the upper deck, the roof, and even the distant (445 feet) center field bleachers, a rare feat at Comiskey Park.

Despite making the All-Star team in each of his three years with the team, he had once again outlived his welcome by 1974, when he walked out on September 14, with two weeks left in the season, after feuding with Third Baseman Ron Santo, who was playing his final year of big league ball after leaving the crosstown Chicago Cubs. The Sox sold Allen to the Atlanta Braves for only $5,000 despite the fact that he led the league in home runs, slugging (.563), and OPS (.938). Allen refused to report to the Braves, and he announced his retirement.

Final playing years Edit

The Phillies managed to coax Allen out of retirement for the 1975 season, and he spent two relatively unproductive seasons there, batting just .233 and .268. He moved to the Oakland Athletics for the 1977 season, where he left in his typical style - walking out on the A's when they considered making him a designated hitter.

Retirement years Edit

After retirement, Allen had a string of bad fortune, with his uninsured house and horse stables burning down in October 1979. He subsequently left his wife for a younger woman; his wife took him to court and got everything he had left, even the rights to his baseball pension. He has written (with Tim Whitaker) an autobiography titled Crash: The Life and Times of Dick Allen, which Bill James has called "one of the best baseball books in recent years". For many years Allen held the distinction of the highest slugging percentage among players eligible for but not in the Hall of Fame. This only ended in 2006, when Albert Belle became eligible but was not elected. Whether Allen is worthy of the Hall of Fame has been hotly debated, with many people arguing he is the best player not in the hall of fame.[1] Their arguments usually center around his very high career averages, batting (.292), slugging (.534), and on-base (.378). They also point out that he played much of his career in the sixties, the decade when pitchers were most dominant, and he played some of his career in the pitcher friendly parks of Busch Stadium and Dodgers Stadium. Detractors of his Hall of Fame credentials argue that his career was not as long as most Hall of Famers, so he does not have the career cumulative numbers that others do. They also argue that his poor defense and bad clubhouse presence took away from his teams much of what his bat gave them.[2]

TriviaEdit

Allen is known to many tax law students as being the petitioner in the famous case Allen v. Commissioner, 50 T.C. 466 (1968). After receiving a US$70,000 bonus from the Philadelphia Phillies, he gave US$40,000 to his mother. Even though he attempted to avoid paying income tax on the $40,000, the court held he was both responsible for the taxes and not able to make a trade or business deduction for the amount.

QuotesEdit

  • "Now I know why they boo Richie all the time. When he hits a home run, there's no souvenir." - Willie Stargell, after Allen once hit a home run over the left-center field roof of Philadelphia's Connie Mack Stadium.
  • "If a horse won't eat it, I don't want to play on it." - His own quote on artificial turf.
  • "I can play anywhere; First, Third, Left field, anywhere but Philadelphia."

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

Preceded by:
Pete Rose
National League Rookie of the Year
1964
Succeeded by:
Jim Lefebvre
Preceded by:
Bill Melton
American League Home Run Champion
1972
Succeeded by:
Reggie Jackson
Preceded by:
Harmon Killebrew
American League RBI Champion
1972
Succeeded by:
Reggie Jackson
Preceded by:
Vida Blue
American League Most Valuable Player
1972
Succeeded by:
Reggie Jackson
Preceded by:
Reggie Jackson
American League Home Run Champion
1974
Succeeded by:
Reggie Jackson & George Scott

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