Most experts argue that Allen, who won the MLB Rookie of the Year Award in 1964 and MVP in 1972, should be a Hall of Fame outfielder, but the shade that has followed him as a freethinking, intelligent and free-spirited Black man has kept him out of Cooperstown.
This 2009 article from Bleacher Report supporting Allen’s HOF campaign reveals some of the early experiences with racism he encountered, which hardened his shell and made him more reclusive.
“Allen entered the major leagues as a young and angry individual. He had been mistreated frequently during his stint in the minors. He was booed as the team’s first black player and the subject of heavy ridicule and racism.
Allen was greeted with signs that said N*gger go home. Fans wrote messages on his windshield saying, Don’t come back again, n*gger.
While he had always been respected for his play on the fieldeven through his journey in the minor leagues, when Allen’s talent was evidenthe kept to himself. Allen was a troubled player living in a difficult environment.”
Allen’s still waiting on his deserving HOF nod, but in the meantime, he will be honored for his efforts as one of the five inductees into the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) Hall of Game.
Dick Allen to be inducted into ‘Hall of Game’ https://t.co/JQTzgWelAk @MLB @ESPN @SportsCenter @6ABC @PTI @GetUp @NYTSports @Phillies @CBSPhilly @NBCPhiladelphia @USATodaySports @Time @SINow @PhillyInquirer @Phillydotcom @PhillyDailyNews
Back in 2013, I wrote an article about the Hall of Game, a game-changing and culturally significant event that the NLBM would introduce in 2014 in conjunction with its Jackie Robinson celebration, offering some historical refuge to players who were clearly the best ballers of their eras, but whose HOF chances were tainted by suspicion/revelations of their performance-enhancing drug use or other character issues.
The winners are selected by NLBM-appointed baseball brains who assess a pool of former major league players of any race who played from 1960 on and played the game the way they played it in the Negro Leagues.
WCCO-TV, Channel 4, Saturdays at 11:05 PM Mike Max travels to Kansas City, Mo., to share a precious piece of baseball history. Located at the corner of 18th and Vine is the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, which showcases an important piece of baseball and U.S. history.
The beauty of the Negro Leagues was that it didnt care what color you were, Kendrick explained. All they cared about was if you could play. So its in that spirit that we will honor former major leaguers who played the game with that same zest, that same feel, that same charisma and skill.
This years induction class includes Allen, multi-year All-Star and Gold Glove honorees Kenny Lofton and Eddie Murray, and pitching sensations James Timothy Mudcat Grant and flamethrower J.R. Richard. The five Major League Baseball legends will be inducted into the NLBM Hall of Game during ceremonies at the Gem Theater on Saturday, June 9, at 8 p.m.
Dick Allen hits a HR in the 1967 All Star Game in Anaheim.
During the 10-year period from 1964, when he broke in with the Phillies and almost helped them win their first National League title since 1950, through 1974, a large contingent of respected historians believe Allen was the best player in baseball during that decade.
His 163 OPS+ through 1969 is best of any player between 1950 and 1969 not in the Hall of Fame, by a wide margin. Just two players did better than Allen for this stat in these years: Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle
That didnt stop the Philadelphia media from dogging him every chance it got and his own fans mercifully booing him at times. He was playing in a boiling kettle of hot racist lava and to make things worse, he was the anti-Jackie Robinson.
Allen knew he was a walking baseball God and he had the swag, and sometimes the prima donna attitude, that you find in modern day ballplayers. He was kind of a loose cannon, but he executed the game of baseball at an historical level.
Here is the opening segment of the 2009 Bob Costas MLB Network Dick Allen Studio 42 interview. It features Willie McCovey, Willie Mays, Cookie Rojas, and others giving their opinion of Dick Allen.
Being black in MLB back in the ’60s was mildly acceptable. But being black and cocky and having the nerve to just not show up for games like Matt Harvey, made Allen a despised figure. Being rumored as wild and uncontrollable in those days might have added to the legend of a Mickey Mantle, but for a Black star, such indiscretions are unforgivable.
If you were a Black player and weren’t a bible-toting, drug and alcohol-free angel then you were labeled a menace to society and deserving of the worst treatment imaginable.
From Long Gone
Baseball historian Bill James rates Allen as one of the top four pure power hitters in history, in a category with Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, and Jimmie Foxx. Allen has 351 career homers. He hit doubles and triples and blasted majestic 500-foot moonshots, smashing more than 30 dingers six times. He could do it all and swung the biggest bat in the game at 42-44 ounces.
Allen, who played 15 seasons for the Phillies, Cardinals, Dodgers, White Sox and Athletics, came closest to the Hall of Fame in 2014, when the now-defunct Golden Era Committee voted on players who made their greatest mark between 1947-74
Allen and the great Tony Oliva each fell one vote short.
It doesnt make sense considering how highly all of Allen’s contemporaries speak of him and the reports of him being a bad apple doesnt shake when listening to those who have seen him up close.
Maybe baseball isn’t quite done with Dick Allen just yet. Here’s to hoping he rightfully gets elected to the Hall of Fame soon. https://t.co/Pt9fYm2KT9
Hall of Famer Goose Gossage: “I’ve been around the game a long time and he’s the greatest player I’ve ever seen and the smartest baseball man I’ve ever been around in my life. The guy belongs in the Hall of Fame.”
It makes you wonder why Allen hasnt been given the honor yet. At least the Hall of Game is here to set history straight and protect those players of color whose contributions to MLB history are underrated.