Dick Allen played in nine seasons for the Phillies, with the first seven of them separated from the last two by a five-year period in which Philadelphia learned to love him. Apparently, the city loves him even more now, having replaced "booing him on sight" to " the mayor demanding that he get into the Hall of Fame."
The mayor says Allen was an idol to kids growing up in West Philly.
"When we played halfball or stickball, everyone at the plate wanted to imitate Dick Allen or, at the time, Richie Allen."
At a City Hall ceremony today, Nutter signed a letter to the Baseball Writers Association of America's Historical Overview Committee, urging that Allen be included on the Golden Era ballot.
Wow, Michael Nutter is a big city mayor, but he was a kid just like us once! #relatable #rockthevote #halfball
It seems the mayor's one day of hard work has paid off, and Dick Allen is in fact back on the Hall of Fame ballot, courtesy of the Golden Era Committee, a squad of old-timey ballplayers who review ballots submitted by a second, smaller committee of researchers who pick players from the era of 1947-72 to get a shot at the Hall of Fame.
That's right folks, that's a thing.
Despite performing with numbers that had gotten him on the Hall of Fame ballot initially, Dick Allen was booed in his day by the type of Phillies fans that make you want to go back in time and start slapping everybody. He hit .290/.371/.530 for the Phillies over nine years! A .902 OPS! 1964 Rookie of the Year! Over 200 HR and 64 triples! Seven-time All-Star! And they booed him!
Also, none of the reporters would call him "Dick" in Philadelphia, even though he asked them to. That was all he wanted and they wouldn't do it. They called him "Richie." Shows you who the real dicks were. What made it even worse is he went to St. Louis after Philadelphia and they immediately called him "Dick," as if calling a man by the name he requests is some sort of given.
Allen received one of baseball's classic "clubhouse cancer" labels after his time with the Phillies, which tainted his reputation forever. This spawned from a confrontation in which fan favorite Phillies teammate Frank Thomas was making racial remarks at a younger player, then instigated Allen into a fight. Allen, as he often did, obliged, and the fight ended when Thomas hit Allen in the shoulder with a freaking bat.
As Johnny Callison explained later for the uninitiated,
"In baseball you don't ever swing a bat at another player - ever."
The fans made all their racially-motivated assumptions and hated Allen for getting their precious Frank Thomas kicked off the team. Allen, who wanted out of Philly for some reason, was eventually traded to the Cardinals in 1969. The Cardinals front office, who apparently did not respect the opinion of their manager Red Schoendienst, asked him if he wanted Allen. He said "no" and they signed him. Later, after Allen had been terrific, they asked if they should trade him. He said "no" and they sent him to Los Angeles.
Allen's best year was with the White Sox, the team with whom he'd win his MVP award in 1972: With a .308 BA, he led the NL in OBP (.420), SLG (.603), HR (37), RBI (113), OPS+ (199), and BB (99). He'd lead in HR (32) and SLG (.563) again in 1974 before heading back to the Phillies.
Allen says it was a visit from Richie Ashburn and a very small contingency of Phillies reps that convinced him to return to Philadelphia, after they shared a keg of beer and some barbecue at an impromptu hang-out on Allen's deck in Wampum, PA; a hang-out at which I frequently dream I am in attendance. Following his return, Philadelphia had grown up a bit, and nobody tried to run him out of town for some perceived slight.
Now, he spends a lot of time wishing former Phillies a happy birthday via Twitter.
Troubled as he was, the main point here is that if the Hall of Fame is the museum of the game's best players and not a funhouse guarded by giggling, vindictive sports writers, Allen should be in it.. He had his vices - just ask him - but they were made to look worse in the context of simmering racial tensions and his desire not to ever speak to the press - and in his defense, he never hit anyone with a bat.
His Hall of Fame candidacy has been debated for some time now, though how you could deny a man with numbers like Allen's, with the ability to drive a home run ball that rivaled Mantle and Ruth, who served as a mentor for Mike Schmidt, and who sung like a bird, is nonsense. Of course there's that -10.6 dWAR. But I'm sure Michael Nutter wasn't was consulting advanced statistics when he signed that letter.
Now, back to solving all of Philadelphia's many, many problems!