On December 7, 2020 Baseball lost another former player, Dick Allen, a fearsome hitter who was a seven-time All-Star, the 1964 NL Rookie of the Year and the 1972 AL MVP, has died. He was 78 years old.

Former teammate Mike Schmidt, who helped bring Allen out of retirement for the 1975 season said this of Allen.

“Dick was a sensitive Black man who refused to be treated as a second-class citizen,” Schmidt said in a speech. “He played in front of home fans that were products of that racist era [with] racist teammates and different rules for whites and Blacks. Fans threw stuff at him, and thus Dick wore a batting helmet throughout the whole game. They yelled degrading racial slurs. They dumped trash in his front yard at his home. In general, he was tormented, and it came from all directions. And Dick rebelled.”

Schmidt said. “Imagine what Dick could’ve accomplished as a player in another era, on another team, left alone to hone his skills, to be confident, to come to the ballpark every day and just play baseball.”

“Dick will be remembered as not just one of the greatest and most popular players in our franchise’s history, but also as a courageous warrior who had to overcome far too many obstacles to reach the level he did. Dick’s iconic status will resonate for generations of baseball fans to come as one of the all-time greats to play America’s pastime,” the Phillies said.

Phillies managing partner John Middleton broke from the team’s longstanding “unwritten” policy of retiring only the number of players who are in the Hall of Fame to honor Allen.

“I thank the city of Philadelphia. Even though it was rough, I’ve made some friends along the way,” Allen said in an emotional ceremony on a warm, sunny afternoon.

Allen was Middleton’s favorite player as a kid. He called the abuse Allen received “horrific” and pointed out his accomplishments are even greater considering the racism he endured.

Allen batted .292 with 351 homers, 1,119 RBI and .912 OPS in 15 seasons. He played first base, third base and left field.

Allen won the 1972 AL MVP for the White Sox he had a monster season hitting 37 homeruns with a 1.023 OPS and 199 OPS+ and may have won back to back MVP’s had he not broke his ankle after 70 games in 73. He also lead the league in homeruns in 74 playing for the White Sox, as well as lugging and OBP.

Allen had the fifth-most home runs (319) over an 11-year span (1964-74) behind four Hall of Famers: Hank Aaron (391), Harmon Killebrew (336), Willie Stargell (335) and Willie McCovey (327). His .940 OPS during that time was second to Aaron’s .941.

Allen wasn’t elected into the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America, and he fell one vote short in Golden Era Committee voting in 2014. Allen never got above 18.9% of the Hall of Fame vote. His ink on Baseball reference show him as a borderline Hall of Fame player, but his career was far from borderline he performed like a true star despite his circumstances and has belonged in Cooperstown for a long time. The Golden Days Committee and the Early Days Committee did not vote this year because of COVID-19 and instead will meet during the winter of 2021. Sadly, he will not get to feel the joy on induction when his name is finally called.


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