Tag Archives: Dick Allen

Philography series of Philadelphia Phillies mini-bios to resume

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It was October 2014 and I was writing for another site when I decided to begin a series of mini biographies on important figures in Philadelphia Phillies history.

Over the next few years and across a handful of different writing outlets, that series which I named “Philography” would continue to accumulate entries, a few during each off-season.

This year the tradition continues, beginning next week with what will be the 22nd entry in the Philography series. The new entry will highlight the career of the greatest pitcher in Phillies history, Steve Carlton.

To get Phillies and overall baseball history fans ready, below are links to the previous 21 pieces. These bios will usually key on the individual’s playing career, but I try to provide more personal and professional background if widely available.

I hope that you will find the series increases your enjoyment of baseball and the Phillies in particular, and come back for the new entries. There will be one each month during December, January, February, and March.

Click on the “date” in order to read the Philography piece. Click on the individual name to view their stats page at Baseball Reference.

PHILOGRAPHY SERIES

 

10.17.2014Greg Luzinski

10.24.2014Mitch Williams

10.31.2014Chris Short

11.07.2014Von Hayes

11.14.2014Placido Polanco

11.21.2014Jim Konstanty

11.28.2014Dick Allen

12.06.2014Dick Ruthven

12.12.2014Grover Cleveland  Alexander

12.20.2014Darren Daulton

12.13.2015Larry Bowa

1.09.2016Sherry Magee

1.26.2016Kevin Stocker

2.10.2016Granny Hamner

2.15.2016 – Edith Houghton

12.27.2016Bob Boone

1.19.2017Mike Lieberthal

2.02.2017Red Dooin

11.29.2018Richie Ashburn

2.03.2019Jim Bunning

2.10.2019Mike Schmidt

 

MORE RECENT PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES CONTENT:

2020 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot includes six former Phillies

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Who will be the next former Phillies player to receive a plaque at the Baseball Hall of Fame?

 

35 formers players are enshrined with plaques. Two managers and a pair of executives as well. Even five broadcasters and 10 writers whose work was featured in Philadelphia have found a place at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

That makes a grand total of 52 individuals with ties to the Phillies organization now honored with a place in Cooperstown. Who will be next?

The official nominees for 2020 enshrinement as a player were announced earlier this week. The ballot submitted by the Hall for voting by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) includes six players who pulled on a Phillies jersey at some point in their career.

All six of these players left an indelible impression on Phillies fans during their stay with the ball club. Three of them even performed during Veteran’s Stadium days. The six players are pitchers Curt Schilling, Cliff Lee, and Billy Wagner, outfielders Bobby Abreu and Raul Ibañez, and third baseman Scott Rolen.

Let’s take a look back at a snapshot of each player’s overall career and their time in Philadelphia. I’ll also give you my opinion as to their chances of actually gaining enshrinement with their own plaque at the Hall of Fame. The players are presented in alphabetical order.

BOBBY ABREU

MLB: 18 seasons (1996-2012, 2014)

Phillies: Nine seasons (1998-2006)

Stats: WAR – 60, Slash – .291/.395/.475, 2,470 hits, 288 home runs, 1,363 RBIs, 1,453 runs, 400 stolen bases, 574 doubles, 59 triples

Career highlights and awards: 1996 Houston Astros Minor League Player of the Year. 1999 Venezuelan Winter League Player of the Year. 1999-2001 Phillies Player of the Year. 2004-05 All-Star, 2004 Silver Slugger Award, 2005 Gold Glove Award, 2019 Phillies Wall of Fame, Led MLB in triples 1998, Led NL in doubles, received MVP votes in six seasons.

Abreu hit the first official home run in Citizens Bank Park history in 2004 and had the last stolen base at the original Yankee Stadium in 2008. 2005 NL Player of the Month in April and 2009 AL Player of the Month in July. Won 2005 Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game in which he was a starter at the game in Detroit.

Abreu produced two 30/30 (HR/SB) seasons and nine 20/20 seasons. He is one of just six players in MLB history to reach 250 home runs, 2,000 hits, 1,000 runs, 1,000 runs batted in, 1,000 walks and 300 stolen bases. Hit .284 with a .392 OBP over 79 career postseason plate appearances.

HOF chances: Borderline, but not likely during time on writer’s ballot, though he will justifiably receive votes and support. Abreu is 20th all-time in the right field JAWS ranking, which falls just shy of the Hall of Fame as it trails such players as Larry Walker, Dwight Evans, Reggie Smith, and Sammy Sosa, who have not been able to get in to this point.

RAUL IBAÑEZ

MLB: 19 seasons (1996-2014)

Phillies: Three seasons (2009-11)

Stats: WAR – 20.4, Slash – .272/.335/.465, 2,034 hits, 305 home runs, 1,207 RBIs, 1,055 runs, 50 stolen bases, 424 doubles, 51 triples

Career highlights and awards: 2009 National League All-Star while with Phillies. Received MVP votes in three seasons. 5x Player of the Week. 2002 Kansas City Royals Player of the Year. In 2004 with Seattle Mariners he  tied the AL record with six hits in one game.

Ibanez became a beloved Yankees player on his heroic late-game performance which led to a victory in Game 3 of the 2012 ALDS vs the Orioles. In that game he pinch-hit for a slumping Alex Rodriguez and ultimately became the first player in major league history to hit two home runs in a postseason game he did not start; the first to hit two home runs in the 9th inning or later of a postseason game; the oldest player to hit a postseason walk-off home run; and the oldest player to hit two home runs in a postseason game.

In a second stint with Mariners in 2013, Ibanez became the oldest player in MLB history to blast 20 home runs prior to the All-Star break. His 29 home runs that season at age 41 tied Ted Williams for the most homers in a season by anyone aged 40 and over.

Ibanez hit .245 with six home runs and 22 RBIs over 151 career postseason plate appearances. With the Phillies he hit .240 with three homers and 17 RBIs over 108 plate appearances.

HOF chances: Zero as a player. His career 20.2 JAWS mark is 119th all-time among left fielders. Players ahead of him not enshrined include a trio of Phillies Wall of Famers in Greg Luzinski, Sherry Magee, and Del Ennis, former Phillies Lonnie Smith and Gary Matthews, as well as players such as Lance Berkman and George Foster.

CLIFF LEE

MLB: 13 seasons (2002-13)

Phillies: Five seasons (2009, 2011-14)

Stats: WAR – 42.8, 143-91 record. Innings – 2,156.2; Strikeouts – 1,824; K/BB – 3.93; ERA/WHIP/FIP – 3.52/1.196/3.45; 328 games, 324 starts, 29 complete games, 12 shutouts.

Career highlights and awards: 2008 AL Cy Young Award and Comeback Player of the Year. 2008 Warren Spahn Award as baseball’s best lefty pitcher. 4x All-Star. Received Cy Young Award votes in five seasons, MVP votes in two seasons. Led MLB in Wins and Win Pctg in 2008, WHIP in 2010. Led AL in Win Pctg 2x. Led MLB 4x in fewest BB/9. Won his first seven postseason decisions, including Phillies only two wins in the 2009 World Series vs Yankees. Lost two games with Texas in 2010 World Series.

HOF chances: Zero. His 41.6 career JAWS mark is 132nd among starting pitchers in this history of the game. That is excellent, but is well behind the 79.5 mark of Schilling and trails others such as Rick Reuschel, Kevin Brown, Luis Tiant, David Cone, Bret Saberhagen, Dave Stieb, Tommy John, and David Cone among many others who are not enshrined as yet.

SCOTT ROLEN

MLB: 17 seasons (1996-2012)

Phillies: Seven seasons (1996-2002)

Stats: WAR – 70.2, Slash – .281/.364/490, 2,077 hits, 316 home runs, 1,287 RBIs, 1,211 runs, 118 stolen bases, 517 doubles, 43 triples

Career highlights and awards: 1997 NL Rookie of the Year. 8x National League Gold Glove Award at third base, trailing only Brooks Robinson (16) and Mike Schmidt (10) at the position in MLB history. 2002 NL Silver Slugger Award. 7x All-Star. Received MVP votes in four seasons, including finishing fourth in 2004. Had seven RBIs in one game in 2006.

Rolen had five homers in 159 career postseason plate appearances. His two-run home run in the 6th inning of Game 7 of the 2004 NLCS won the National League pennant for the Cardinals over the Houston Astros. His second inning homer in Game 1 of the 2006 Fall Classic vs Detroit tied the game and helped the Cardinals to victory. Saint Louis would go on to win the World Series in five games.

In June 2010, Rolen slammed his 300th career home run off Kyle Kendrick of the Phillies.

HOF chances: Solid – eventually. Rolen is in his third year of consideration by the BBWAA voters. He barely stayed alive his first year on the ballot, finishing with just 10.2% of the voters support in 2018. But that support rose to 17.2% last year and should continue to rise steadily during the 2020’s. His career JAWS is 10th among all third basemen to ever play the game, and all eight eligible ahead of him are already enshrined. It is possible that it might take a future Veteran’s Committee to get him in, similar to Ron Santo. But modern BBWAA voters are more likely to eventually come to fully appreciate his all-around game.

CURT SCHILLING

MLB: 20 seasons (1988-2007)

Phillies: Nine seasons (1992-2000)

Stats: WAR – 80.5, 216-146 record. Innings – 3,261; Strikeouts – 3,116; K/BB – 4.38; ERA/WHIP/FIP – 3.46/1.137/3.23; 569 games, 436 starts, 83 complete games, 20 shutouts.

Career highlights and awards: 3x World Series champion. World Series and NLCS Most Valuable Player. 6x All-Star who started the 1999 All-Star Game. Received Cy Young Award votes in four seasons, finishing as runner-up 3x. Received MVP votes in four seasons. Twice led MLB in wins and innings pitched. Back-to-back seasons with 300+ strikeouts with Phillies in 1998-99, also reached in 2002 with Arizona. His 319 strikeouts in 1997 passed Steve Carlton to set a new Phillies single-season record.

One of the greatest postseason pitchers of all-time, Schilling’s .846 career winning percentage is highest of any pitcher with at least 10 postseason decisions. He has an all-time record of 11-2 with 120 strikeouts over 133.1 innings across 19 postseason starts, including two shutouts and six complete games.

One of his shutouts came in Game 5 of the 1993 World Series with the Phillies, keeping the team alive against Toronto. He pitched into the 8th inning of Game 7 of the 2001 World Series vs the Yankees for Arizona, a game the Dbacks would eventually win in walkoff fashion. His most memorable postseason performances are likely the “bloody sock” games in which he shut down the Yankees in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS and the Cardinals in Game 2 of the World Series.

Schilling has the highest strikeout-to-walk ratio of any of the 18 pitchers in baseball’s career 3,000 strikeout club. In 2013, he was enshrined on the Phillies Wall of Fame.

HOF chances: Excellent. Schilling is in his eighth of 10 seasons in which the BBWAA voters will consider his worthiness. Over the last three years his percentage of support has risen from 45% to 51.2% to 60.9% a year ago. Other than the fact that some voters do not appreciate his outspoken conservative political and social speech since retiring, it is hard to understand how anyone could leave him off their ballot. Schilling ranks 27th among all starting pitchers in all-time JAWS, and the only one ahead of him not already enshrined is 19th century hurler Jim McCormick.

BILLY WAGNER

MLB: 16 seasons (1995-2010)

Phillies: Two seasons (2004-05)

Stats: WAR – 27.8, 47-40 record with 422 career saves. Innings – 903; Strikeouts – 1,196; K/BB – 3.99; ERA/WHIP/FIP – 2.31/0.998/2.73; 853 games, 703 finished.

Career highlights and awards: 1999 NL Rolaids Relief Pitcher of the Year. 7x All-Star. Received Cy Young Award votes twice, finishing fourth in 1999 and sixth in 2006. Received MVP votes twice. Led MLB in games finished in 2003 with Houston and again while with the Phillies in the 2005 season.

Wagner is sixth on the all-time MLB saves leader board. The top three on the list, Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, and Lee Smith, all went into the Hall of Fame in recent years as the closer and relief pitcher position has been given more respect from voters. Only two ahead of him not enshrined are Francisco Rodriguez and John Franco.

HOF chances: Not likely. This is his fifth of 10 years on the BBWAA ballot. He has received minimal support, with the 16.7% a year ago as his strongest finish. Wagner is just 19th on the JAWS career ranking of relievers. Only a half-dozen ahead of him are in the Hall of Fame. His total number of saves and strikeout dominance help elevate his case over many of the other 13 ahead of him on that list, but I just don’t see him making it on the writer’s ballots. Maybe a Veteran’s Committee will see it differently down the line.

 

MORE RECENT PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES AND BASEBALL CONTENT:

 

Four Phillies have won the NL Rookie of the Year Award

Sanford was the Phillies first Rookie of the Year Award winner in 1957.

 

In a scheduled 6:00 pm EST telecast this evening on MLB Network, the 2019 Major League Baseball Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Awards will be announced.

These are the official awards for the National and American League’s top first-year players as chosen in voting by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Finalists for the NL honors are first baseman Pete Alonso of the New York Mets, starting pitcher Mike Soroka of the Atlanta Braves, and shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.of the San Diego Padres.

Over in the AL the finalists are OF/DH Yordan Alvarez of the Houston Astros, 2B/OF Brandon Lowe of the Tampa Bay Rays, and starting pitcher John Means of the Baltimore Orioles.

(UPDATE: After original publication of this piece it was announced that Alonso and Alvarez had won the NL & AL awards respectively.)

Winners of the IBWAA (Internet Baseball Writers Association of America) Rookies of the Year were announced earlier in the day. Those awards went to Alonso in the NL, with Alvarez capturing the AL honors.

The Chicago chapter of the BBWAA established the original Rookie of the Year Award in 1940 and voted on a single winner for all of baseball through the 1946 season.

In 1947, voting went national, and the winner was the racial barrier-breaking Robinson. Beginning in 1949 a separate award was given for the top rookie in each league.

Originally named the J. Louis Comiskey award after the 1930’s-era Chicago White Sox owner, it was renamed as the Jackie Robinson Award in July 1987 on the 40th anniversary of his breaking baseball’s unofficial color barrier.

The Philadelphia Phillies have seen four players take home the award as NL Rookie of the Year.

The first of these was Jack Sanford. A right-handed pitcher from Massachusetts, Sanford was signed by the Phillies as an amateur free agent prior to the 1948 season. He made his first big-league appearances during a brief three-game cup of coffee in 1956.

During his official rookie campaign the following year at age 28, Sanford made 33 starts, going 19-8 with a 3.08 ERA for a .500 ball club. Sanford allowed just 194 hits over 236.2 innings with 188 strikeouts, a figure that led the National League.

For his outstanding freshman season, Sanford not only took home the NL Rookie of the Year award, but was also named to the NL All-Star team that year. In addition, he finished 10th in the NL MVP voting.

Seven years later, in what would become an infamous 1964 campaign for the Fightin’ Phils, a slugging 22-year-old third baseman named Dick Allen took the honors in the National League.

Allen (featured picture accompanying this piece) had also received a cup of coffee in September prior to his breakout season, hitting .292 over 25 plate appearances across 10 games in September of 1963.

The following year, Allen (known then as ‘Richie’) led the Phillies to the front of the National League, a position the club would hold until collapsing with 10 consecutive late-September losses left them a game off the pennant pace.

Allen’s power-speed combination in the middle of manager Gene Mauch‘s lineup made all of the difference. He slashed .318/.382/.557 with 29 home runs, 91 RBIs, and 125 runs scored.

Among his 80 extra-base hits were a league-leading 13 triples, and Allen led all of Major League Baseball with 352 total bases.

In addition to capturing that year’s NL Rookie of the Year honors, Allen finished 7th in the NL Most Valuable Player voting.

It would be more than three decades before another Phillies rookie took home the honors. Once again it would be a dynamic, slugging third baseman. But that player very nearly did not qualify for the award.

Requirements for the MLB Rookie of the Year Awards are that a player must have fewer than 130 official at-bats or fewer than 50 innings pitched in order to be eligible. They must also have fewer than 45 days on the active roster, excluding time on the disabled list, in military service, or time when the rosters are expanded.

In 1996, Scott Rolen was called up for an August 1 doubleheader against Saint Louis at Veteran’s Stadium. He would play so well that he was never sent back to the minor league.

Rolen hit .254 with four homers, seven doubles, 18 RBIs, and 10 runs scored over his first 146 big-league plate appearances with the Phillies across 37 games that summer.

Then, in the bottom of the third inning of a September 7 game at Veteran’s Stadium, Rolen was hit by a pitch thrown by Chicago Cubs starter Steve Trachsel. He would be pulled from the game, and miss the rest of the season.

That left Rolen a single at-bat shy of exhausting his rookie eligibility. With it still intact the following year, he would become a runaway winner in the 1997 Rookie of the Year voting.

That season, Rolen slashed .283/.377/.469 with 21 homers, 59 extra-base hits, 92 RBIs, 93 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases. He also played the hot corner like no one had since Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt nearly a decade earlier, and like no one has since.

Eight years later, in 2005, a hulking first baseman named Ryan Howard would become the fourth and most recent Phillies player to win those Rookie of the Year honors.

Howard may have been ready for his big-league debut a year earlier, but was blocked by future Hall of Famer Jim Thome. Howard did receive his own September cup of coffee promotion in 2004, blasting a pair of home runs over 42 plate appearances across 19 games.

Thome was still manning the first base position at Citizens Bank Park when that 2005 season began, so Howard again began the season at Triple-A.

However, an injury to Thome opened the door for an opportunity, and Howard  was called up on May 3 for what would be another dozen games. The injury to Thome’s elbow would persist, eventually costing his season. Howard came back on July 2 to stay.

Over the final four months of the season, Howard slashed .296/.365/.585 and became one of the most feared middle-order hitters in the game. He blasted 21 homers with 62 RBIs over just 318 plate appearances in that stretch.

During the ensuing off-season, Thome would be traded away to the Chicago White Sox for a package led by center fielder Aaron Rowand. Howard would become ‘The Big Piece’ in the middle of the lineup for five straight NL East Division champs, back-to-back NL pennant winners, and the 2008 World Series champions.

While a member of the Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper took the honors as National League Rookie of the Year as a 19-year-old back in 2012. Harper hit .270 with 22 home runs, 57 extra-base hits, 59 RBIs, 98 runs scored, and 18 stolen bases after being called up on April 28.

Philography series to resume with Phillies retired number legends

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Phillies legends Schmidt, Carlton, Bunning to be covered as ‘Philography’ series resumes

It was just over four years ago that I first decided to write mini-biographies about famous Philadelphia Phillies figures of the past. The effort was largely for me. I have always enjoyed history and biographies of influential and famous figures from the past, not just sports-related.

While I knew the “baseball card” information on most of the players, I knew very little about their backgrounds. Where did they come from? What was the specific path leading them to Philadelphia?
If they played for another team, what achievements did they enjoy with that club? How did their career, and in some cases their lives, come to an end? Did they enjoy a post-baseball career?
Out of this natural curiosity on my part the “Philography” series was first born. I decided that I wanted to write about the playing careers, and touch on other aspects of the lives, of some of my own Phillies favorites of the past. The series would begin with a star player from my youth, “The Bull” himself, Greg Luzinski.
Over the next two months, I produced a new piece each week, picking from the team’s past in no specific pattern: Mitch WilliamsChris ShortVon HayesPlacido PolancoJim KonstantyDick AllenDick RuthvenGrover Cleveland “Pete” AlexanderDarren Daulton,
Paintings and memorabilia adorn the walls and fill the
halls on the Hall of Fame level at Citizens Bank Park

The Philography series was officially born. I then made the decision that this would become a regular off-season project, to write a handful of Phillies mini-bios each fall and winter.

In December 2015 a piece on Larry Bowa was produced, and we were off and running once again. A month later I reached back in time to produce a piece on Sherry Magee. Before spring training began for the 2016 season there would be installments on Kevin StockerGranny Hamner, and the only female to appear thus far, Edith Houghton.
The series returned in December of 2016 with a piece on Bob Boone, and I made a decision to push the series in a specific direction for the first time. That off-season, I would go after the Phillies all-time best catchers who hadn’t previously been covered. With Daulton and Boone in the books, the series continued with Wall of Famer Mike Lieberthal and old-timer Red Dooin.

And then the series was shelved. Last off-season saw a number of changes in my life, and most of my writing took a back seat for a while. I returned to regular baseball writing this summer upon joining the staff here at Phillies Nation. And now, the series will be making its return as well.
This off-season will see the continuation of “Philography” with some of the biggest names in franchise history. Over the next few weeks there will be pieces covering each of the five players who have had an actual uniform number retired by the Philadelphia Phillies due to their play with the team: Richie AshburnJim BunningMike SchmidtSteve Carlton, and Robin Roberts.
I hope that you enjoy these pieces, which it will be my goal to release each weekend beginning after Thanksgiving. If you are interested in catching up with the past “Philography” series installments, they can each be found at the following links.

Book Review: "God Almighty Hisself: the Life and Legacy of Dick Allen"

Perhaps the single most controversial figure in the 133-season history of the Philadelphia Phillies franchise is the subject of a new book “God Almighty Hisself: The Life and Legacy of Dick Allen” by Villanova University law professor Mitchell Nathanson.
This is not a clumsy tome hastily thrown together to make a quick buck by giving fans some light summer reading.
Instead, Nathanson has produced a legitimate, first-class biography that tells the story of the 1960’s superstar who made a somewhat triumphant return in the mid-70’s to the city that once spurned him.
Allen was born and raised in and around Wampum, Pennsylvania, a one-square mile borough in Lawrence County on the western edge of the Commonwealth that can be found approximately 40 miles northwest of Pittsburgh and just 10 miles from the PA-Ohio border.
Though the town was overwhelmingly white in population and he was being raised in the racially charged America of the 1950’s, Allen experienced few overt problems thanks largely to his athletic abilities.
He and brothers Hank and Ronnie became basketball stars at Wampum High School, leading the team to championships while each became All-State players.
Allen became a professional baseball player rather than a pro hoops star simply because America’s pastime paid more, and Allen looked to provide a better life for himself and his family
, led by his mother, a God-loving and fearing Christian woman who worked hard to support her boys as a single parent.
He was also part of what Nathanson refers to as the “second generation of black players” who came after trailblazers such as Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby had begun integrating the game a decade or so earlier.
“This was Dick Allen’s generation,” writes Nathanson, “and their stories are, in fact, no less compelling, no less triumphant.”

“But this generation, unlike Robinson’s, did not end with an exclamation mark. Instead it bled slowly and imperceptibly into the modern game, where the racial double standard finally disappeared, and if you don’t look for it, you’re likely to miss it. But it’s there. And Dick Allen, at times unwittingly, at times quite cunningly, is a large part of the reason it ultimately succeeded.” ~ Nathanson

The racial and other societal challenges of the times were made a bit more difficult for Allen than even others in the game, as the Phillies were notoriously averse to bringing in black ball players.
The Phils would become the last major league team to integrate when John Kennedy made his debut on April 22nd, 1957 at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, NJ as a pinch runner in a game against the Dodgers.
But it was Allen who would become the franchise’ first-ever black superstar during a time when Philadelphia was far less ethnically diverse than it has become today.
Over the first couple of chapters, Nathanson does an outstanding job of setting the stage for the rest of his book, for Allen’s experiences in Philly, and for the slugger’s 15-year big league career. In those pages he paints a clear picture of Allen’s personal life, and of the game in those days.
Things were especially difficult in places like the Phillies’ minor league affiliate at Little Rock, Arkansas, where Allen became the first-ever black player.

When the game was on, everybody was for you,” Nathanson quotes Allen. “When the game was over, everybody walked away from you and you were on your own.

Nathanson covers the rise of the mid-60’s contending Phillies with Allen starring as the club took a run at the 1964 NL Pennant, a run that every fan of the team knows ended in one of the most inglorious collapses in baseball history.
He pulls no punches in covering Allen’s infamous pre-game locker room fight with teammate Frank Thomas, the deterioration of Connie Mack Stadium and its surrounding neighborhood, and other racial elements of the times surrounding the team in the 1960’s in vivid, well-researched, and well-written detail.
He moves through Allen’s deteriorating relationship with the media, and in some ways through them, the Phillies fans, and ultimately with the club’s front office as the decade drew to a close.

By opening night of the 1969 season, hostility was thick in the Philadelphia air; most of those who trudged toward the dilapidated ballpark in the dilapidated neighborhood did so for one reason: to boo Dick Allen.”

Even as Allen finally escaped from Philadelphia in a trade to the Saint Louis Cardinals on October 7th, 1969, there was major controversy attached.
Allen was dealt by the Phils along with infielder Cookie Rojas and righty pitcher Jerry Johnson to Saint Louis in exchange for catcher Tim McCarver, closer Joe Hoerner, backup outfielder Byron Browne, and the centerpiece of the deal from the Philly perspective, a 31-year old outfielder named Curt Flood.
Flood was a 14-year big league veteran who had debuted at just age 18, and who had become a 3x NL All-Star with the Cardinals. The center fielder was riding a streak of seven consecutive Gold Gloves at the time of the trade, and had finished fourth in the 1968 NL MVP balloting.
But Flood refused to report to the Phillies, and would fight the trade in the single most important legal battle in the history of the sport.
Flood would ultimately lose his personal legal battle, but all players owe him a debt for setting the stage for the overturn of baseball’s “reserve clause” and the onset of free agency.
The Phils would be compensated in the end with the inclusion of Willie Montanez in the deal in place of Flood.
But of course, Flood had to have been dealt for Allen. The deal, its historic legal battle, and the reflection and impact on Allen and the Phillies are covered well by Nathanson.
Allen’s career in Saint Louis would last one season, followed by a trade to the Dodgers. That stint would last one season, followed by a trade to the Chicago White Sox.
Those single seasons came despite the fact that he produced, including making the NL All-Star team in 1970.
In Chicago, Allen took his game to another level, becoming the American League Most Valuable Player in 1972 at age 30. He would make the AL All-Star team in all three of his Chisox seasons.
A month into the season (1972) he had decided that he had at last found a home“, writes Nathanson. He quotes Allen during that MVP season:

I like it here in Chicago and I made up my mind that no matter what happens, this is the last club I’m going to play baseball with. I’m just too tired of moving around.”

As the mid-70’s approached, no one in baseball, least of all Allen, could ever foresee his returning to the Phillies, who had become perennial losers.
However, as those mid-70’s unfolded, the Phils emerged as serious contenders once again sparked by a young core of players led by sluggers Mike Schmidt and Greg Luzinski, and veterans like 2nd baseman Dave Cash and pitcher Steve Carlton.
In December of 1974, the White Sox dealt away a then 32-year old Allen to the Atlanta Braves. Holding to his earlier claim that Chicago would be his final stop, Allen balked at the deal for a number of reasons, both personal and professional.
Then in February of 1975, with Allen’s career possibly ending, Phillies legend Richie Ashburn stepped in, paying a “clandestine” visit to Allen at his Pennsylvania farm.
Accompanied by Schmidt and Cash, the trio risked tampering charges to woo Allen into coming back to Philadelphia with the emerging “Yes We Can” Phillies.
It would take months to accomplish, but eventually the Phillies made a deal with Atlanta, while Allen finalized a deal with owner Ruly Carpenter. Like that, he was the Phils’ starting 1st baseman.[teamnews align=”right” topic=”phillies” vertical=”mlb”]
“From the very beginning, I didn’t want to leave here. But I was kind of like pushed,” Nathanson quotes Allen as saying at the news conference announcing his return.

 “I never got the chance to relate to the kids in North Philly the last time I was here. But I’m going to become involved this time.

Allen would hit for just a .233/.327/.385 slash line with a dozen homers over 481 plate appearances with the 1975 Phillies. However, he did drive in 62 runs and banged 21 doubles, while the team took a run at the NL East crown.
After tying for the division lead as late as August 18th, they ultimately would finish 86-76 and just 6.5 games behind the division-winning Pittsburgh Pirates. It was the team’s best finish in a decade.
It would also mark them as serious contenders. The Phillies would go on to win the next three consecutive NL East crowns, and Allen was there to celebrate in 1976. However, his own skills were obviously eroding, especially the light-tower power that had been his calling card.
In many ways, the 1976 season was a mirror image of the one that preceded it: the club ran away from the pack at last but everything surrounding Dick began to unravel,” writes Nathanson.

For the first few months of the season the fans and writers remained solidly behind him; the team’s sparkling play overshadowed his diminishing skills.

In addition to those skills eroding, Allen was once again disgruntled with the organization, which he believed was underpaying him.
He also felt that Tony Taylor, his 60’s teammate with the Phils who was a bench player by this point, was deserving of a final shot at the postseason.
Allen threatened through the press that unless Taylor were included on the postseason roster, he himself would not play in the NLCS or World Series, if the club advanced.
“On the day the club clinched,” writes Nathanson, “word filtered down to Dick that Taylor would not, after all, be added to the postseason roster. The Phils were scheduled to play the Expos in a Sunday doubleheader and needed to win only one of the two games that afternoon to wrap things up. They took care of that in the first game and celebrated their championship in the cramped Jarry Park locker room.”

“Dick declined to join them, choosing instead to remain on the frosty bench accompanied only by his thoughts.”

This preceded what would become, as described by Nathanson, the “Broom Closet Incident” in the bowels of Jarry Park that afternoon.
This sequence of events, which I’ll leave for you to read in the chapter titled “No Apologies“, highlighted a racial divide that was forming in the Phillies clubhouse, and which many believed was being fomented by Allen.
Allen went just 2-9 in the NLCS with three walks and one run scored, his only career postseason appearance.
The ‘Big Red Machine’ swept the Phillies out in three straight games, coming from behind in all three contests. It would be the final ending to Allen’s playing career in Philadelphia.
He signed as a free agent that off-season with the Oakland Athletics, finishing out his career as a part-timer in Oakland, where he hit the final five home runs of his career.
Allen finished with 351 home runs and 1,119 RBI over his career, with a .292/.378/.534 slash line.
He was the 1964 NL Rookie of the Year with the Phillies, the 1972 AL MVP with the White Sox, a 7x All-Star, and had a half-dozen seasons with 30+ home runs.
In 1994, Allen became the 16th man to be enshrined by the Phillies on their Wall of Fame. Eight years later in 2002, Taylor would join him in also receiving that honor.
Nathanson closes this fantastic work with a glimpse at today’s athletes, and the influence of Allen on their ability to both play the game and express their individuality.

The athlete who goes his own way can no longer expect to be disparaged; he might even be worshiped for his steadfastness and resolve. Although many wouldn’t know him if they passed him on the street, all of these athletes owe a debt to Dick Allen for making their lives easier and more prosperous, for going through everything he went through simply because he believed that if he wasn’t himself he wasn’t anybody. For making the sports establishment realize that it didn’t matter so much after all what one did before or after the game provided he could perform at a peak level when it counted. They have reaped the benefits; Dick has paid the price.” ~ Nathanson

Nathanson has written a book that I consider a vital work and a must-read for any fan of the Phillies, of baseball, and in fact anyone interested in the history of America in the second half of the 20th century.
This is the fourth baseball-themed book written or co-written by Nathanson, and is certainly going to lead to my seeking out the others for reading as well. You are surely going to find something else of his reviewed here in the future.