Tuesday, November 11, 2008

#180 Bob Allison

Bob Allison by you.
I'm not sure what Bob Allison is looking at in this photo, but he seems perturbed by it. Maybe it's Harmon Killebrew modeling his Lucille Ball costume for Ladies' Day at the ballpark. Just try and get that image out of your head...

Missourian Bob Allison was a two-sport athlete at the University of Kansas, playing both baseball and football. He signed with the Senators in 1955, and was an underwhelming hitter until 1958, when he batted .307 in his second try at AA and earned a late-season trial in D.C. The Sens saw enough to give him an Opening Day start the following year. All Bob did in his first full season was hit 30 home runs (sixth in the A.L.) and nine triples (league-best). Unbelievably, he was third on his own team in four-baggers, behind Jim Lemon (33) and Harmon Killebrew (42). This would be the pattern for his career: lofty home run totals that trailed Killebrew each year. The first-year center fielder was named to the All-Star team, and was selected as A.L. Rookie of the Year by a fairly comfortable margin over pitcher Jim Perry and outfielder Russ Snyder.

1960 was the final season for the original Washington franchise, and it was a down year for Allison, whose home run total was halved from his rookie effort. But he did walk 92 times, proving that he had quickly earned the respect of pitchers league-wide. He bested that total in 1961 with the freshly-relocated Twins, accepting 103 free passes. Bob also boosted his longball total to 29 and drove in 105 runs. He would nearly equal those numbers in 1962, before returning to the ranks of the All-Stars in the following two seasons. He reached career highs in home runs (35 in 1963) and batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage (.287/.404/.553 in 1964).

Though Bob started to decline in 1965 (.233 with 23 HR), the Twins remained strong as a club, storming to 102 wins and a World Series date with the Dodgers. L.A. won in seven games, and Allison had only two hits. But one of those hits was a two-run homer that helped Minnesota win Game Six 5-1.

After a broken hand abbreviated his 1966 campaign, Bob pushed back with two more 20+ home run seasons in 1967 and 1968. He was phased into a bench role for the last two years of his career (1969-1970), and his postseason woes continued. The Twins won the first two A.L. West titles, but were swept both times by the East Champion Orioles in the ALCS. Allison went a combined 0-for-10. He had a career to be proud of anyhow: in 13 seasons, all with the same franchise, Bob hit 256 big flies - one every 19.7 at bats. In the outfield, he had solid range and a strong arm. Though he wasn't a prolific base stealer, he was feared on the basepaths.

In his post-baseball life, Allison became general manager of Coca-Cola's Twin Cities marketing division. In his later years, he contracted ataxia, a neurological disorder. He passed away in 1995, at age sixty. The University of Minnesota named their Ataxia Research Center after him.

Fun fact: As you might imagine, Bob had many trivia-worthy longball feats. On July 18, 1962, he and Harmon Killebrew became the first teammates to each hit a grand slam in the same inning. The following year, he hit three round-trippers in one game. In 1964, he teamed with Tony Oliva, Jimmie Hall, and Killebrew to hit back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs in one inning - the eleventh inning at that!

Bob Allison (back) by you.


  1. Kevin,

    I was checking in to enjoy your research and the writeups for your latest 1965 acquisitions and realized that you have acquired over 1/4 of the set within a year!

    I went back and found your first post on the 1965 set from Nov 7 of last year starting off with Stu Miller, so you have made incredible progress over the past 12 months.

    Great work on putting together one of the nicer looking sets from the 1960's!

    Best regards,

  2. Thanks Jon! Things have seriously picked up in the past few months. It can be overwhelming updating two blogs on a daily basis, but it's a good problem to have.

  3. Thanks Jon! Things have seriously picked up in the past few months. It can be overwhelming updating two blogs on a daily basis, but it's a good problem to have.