Dick Allen Still An Outsider: Former MVP Hasn’t Gotten Hall Call

By Christopher Dabe
Updated: July 30, 2005

Dick Allen (circa 1972)

Dick Allen (circa 1972)

MADISON, Wi — Former Major League Baseball most valuable player Dick Allen has plenty of ardent supporters who think he deserves to be enshrined in the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Voters for the Hall have had a different opinion, however, so Allen said he had no plans to watch the 2005 induction ceremony on television Sunday.

“I didn’t make the cut,” said Allen, who signed autographs for several dozen fans Friday night at a Madison Mallards Northwoods League game. “They never let me in, so I can’t watch it.”

This year, Ryne Sandberg of the Chicago Cubs and Wade Boggs, best known for his time with the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, will be enshrined.

Nearly 28 years after leaving the game, the 63-year-old Allen is eligible to enter the Hall only through the veterans’ committee. Arguments for and against Allen’s enshrinement can be found with a Web search.

Allen was the National League rookie of the year with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1964 and the American League most valuable player with the Chicago White Sox in 1972, when he nearly led the league in all three Triple Crown categories.

As far as Allen is concerned, those numbers and the award are of little consequence.

“All the guys on that team busted their (expletive) all season, and they name me the MVP,” Allen said. “That thing sat on a wall for a year and a half, and I wished I had a sledgehammer so I could break that son of a buck up.”

Allen said personal numbers mattered little. He said he looked at a player like Derrek Lee of the Chicago Cubs, who – like Allen in ’72 – is flirting with the Triple Crown, but can offer little advice.

Like many old-timers, Allen said the players have changed.

“They’re bigger, faster, stronger,” he said. “They play in smaller ballparks and make more money.”

Lee entered play Friday with at least a share of the National League lead in batting average (.364) and home runs (32) and was second in RBI (82), two behind Carlos Lee of the Brewers.

Among the things that might be keeping Allen out of the Hall are his off-the-field antics and a standoffish relationship with writers. He has been called the Albert Belle of his generation.

“It was not because I didn’t like them or they didn’t like me,” Allen said. “There was nothing much to talk about.”

Baseball historian Bill James lists Allen among the best performing first basemen in baseball history, based on statistics. Subjectively, James says Allen is far from a Hall of Fame player.

Years of racial tensions led to his departure from Philadelphia via trade to the St. Louis Cardinals after the 1969 season. He spent a year with the Los Angeles Dodgers and then went to the White Sox.

Allen settled in as a dominating hitter while playing first base in 1972. He nearly won the Triple Crown that season – his MVP year – finishing first in home runs (37) and RBI (113) and third in batting average (.308).

By 1974, he wore out his welcome in Chicago, “retiring” with a month left in the season after a feud with teammate Ron Santo.

He spent two more seasons with the Phillies and retired after playing for the Oakland A’s in 1977. A seven-time all-star, he was a .292 career hitter with 351 home runs and 1,119 RBI.

Jay Johnstone, who played with Allen in Philadelphia and Chicago, persuaded Allen to appear in Madison on behalf of team owner Steve Schmitt, a friend of Johnstone’s.

Johnstone said Allen was in the same boat as Santo and several other former players who deserve to be in the Hall.

He said Allen’s omission “shows people hold grudges because of personalities.”