Wednesday, March 09, 2011

#460 Richie Allen

#460 Richie Allen
Chances are good that you know this man as "Dick" Allen, the mercurial, bespectacled, facial-hair-clad slugger of the 1970s. There's almost a three-dimensional aspect with the placement of the rookie trophy in front of Allen's body.

Fun facts about Dick Allen:

-Dick was born in Wampum, PA and signed with the Phillies in 1960 while still a teenager for a $70,000 bonus.

-His older brother Hank was an outfielder with the Senators, Brewers, and White Sox (1966-1973). Younger brother Ron had a seven-game cup of coffee with the Cardinals in 1972.

-After hitting .306 and slugging .531 in four minor league seasons, he debuted with the Phillies in September 1963, batting .292 in 10 games.

-As the Phils' starting third baseman in 1964, Dick won Rookie of the Year honors. He led the National League with 125 runs scored, 13 triples, and 352 total bases and hit .318 with 38 doubles, 29 home runs, and 91 RBI.

-He was a seven-time All-Star, including a 1966 season in which he set career highs with 40 home runs and a league-leading slugging percentage of .632. He also topped the senior circuit with a personal best 1.027 OPS.

-During his initial six-plus year tenure in Philadelphia, his outspoken nature made him a target of fan abuse. He was so frequently pelted with projectiles while on defense, he took to wearing a batting helmet at first base.

-Allen played for four different teams from 1969-1972: Phillies, Cardinals, Dodgers, White Sox. In his first season in Chicago, he captured the American League MVP by virtue of league-leading efforts in home runs (37), RBI (113), walks (99), on-base percentage (.420), and slugging (.603). His .308 average put him in a third-place tie with teammate Carlos May, 10 points behind Rod Carew. If he had gotten just one more hit per month, he would've taken the Triple Crown.

-A productive three-season stint with the Pale Hose was marred by a broken leg suffered in June 1973 and a walk-out late in the 1974 season.

-Dick finished his career with a two-year return engagement in Philly followed by one last season in Oakland in 1977. In parts of 15 seasons, he hit .292/.378/.534 (156 OPS+) with 351 home runs and 1,119 RBI. In 14 years on the Hall of Fame ballot, he never exceeded 18.9% of the vote, but many (including sabermatrician Bill James) still champion his cause.

-During his career, he moonlighted as the lead singer of the Ebonistics, an R&B group that enjoyed minor success.
#460 Richie Allen (back)


  1. This man definitely needs to be in the Hall of Fame!

  2. He is pretty much in the same situation as Dave Parker in that he needed to have a few more years of peak production for his career. I can remember watching a game on tv in the late '60s with Allen scrolling the word "boo" in the dirt while playing 1st, and later the word "coke"

  3. The Hall of Fame thing is a Catch-22. He didn't have a long enough career to put up the counting stats that voters love, and yet a lot of people over the years dismissed guys with a number of strong seasons (like Blyleven) as "compilers".

  4. Well, you sort of have to distinguish the idea of having Hall of Fame talent with having a Hall of Fame career. There are a lot of guys who you could argue were Hall of Fame worthy based on a few really great years. My own feeling is that a player should have at least 10 HOF-worthy seasons to merit the Hall of Fame, with the caveat that I would make an exception for guys such as Sandy Koufax (maybe he is the only one), whose peak years were otherwordly enough (and who was forced to retire early) to merit inclusion.

    For example, as a Braves fan, I saw Dale Murphy in his prime when he was one of the 2-3 best players in the game and was clearly HOF-worthy during those years. But his overall career wasn't that great and I just can't justify him going into the Hall.

    Allen is rather similar to Albert Belle and I'm not really sure what to do with them (ignoring the unsavory aspects of Belle). They were clearly great players whose careers were relatively short but they never really had a decline phase other than related to injury. On balance, I think both should probably be in--I would love to hear Belle's acceptance speech--but I don't think it's necessarily a travesty if they don't make it. Longevity does mean something.

    Sorry to go on so much about something that isn't really related to the cards. Allen had the misfortune of playing in Philadelphia at a time when it was one of the most racist cities in the North, but he did bring some of his problems on himself.

  5. 2 things come to mind with Allen. First he was the keystone of White Sox team that made 31 game turnaround in two years from the awful 1970 squad.
    Second, he had the word "Wampum" instead of Allen and 60 (for 1960)on his uniform when he played for Oakland.

  6. lifetime phillies fan, richie allen was as good as any of the hofers in the national league in the 60s, the front office back then was really cheap and didnt want to pay him, and he became bitter.seems to have lasted for the rest of his career. goose gossage said he was the best hitter he ever saw.

  7. speri - Yeah, it comes down to whether you're a "Big Hall" or "Small Hall" guy. There's no problem with either as long as you're consistent in your choices.

    Anon - Charlie Finley really was a trip. He also wanted to switch to bright orange baseballs so the fielders could track fly balls easier (particularly since fans often wore white shirts back then).

    aschmidt - From what I've read, many of Allen's peers respected his talents.

  8. Has anyone else read Dick Allen's book "Crash"?

    Very interesting. He intentionally became surly in the late 1960s to force his way out of Philadelphia. Even the writing in the dirt was a ploy to tick off/embarass Phillies management into getting rid of him.

    I remember those 1967-69 seasons, as well as the good buzz created when we heard in 1975 that he was coming back.

  9. Jim - I haven't read the book, but from what I know about Allen, he's definitely one of the more complex personalities in the game. Much more so than a loose cannon type (Albert Belle, for example).