Ten Noteworthy Facts About Recently Newly Enshrined Slugger Dick Allen
Allen Is One of Only Two National League Rookie of the Year Winners To Later Nab an MVP In the A.L.
Steve Stone on a broadcast earlier this season was asked by his booth partner about the toughest hitter he had ever faced during his long career, and his answer was completely unexpected. There were several moments of silence after the 1980 Cy Young Award winner replied, “Dick Allen.”
He was the smartest hitter I ever met,” Stone explained. “He may not have been the most talented or most successful, but he was definitely the smartest.”
A few weeks later Allen was getting overdue recognition in Philadelphia, where he was being inducted into the Phillies Hall of Fame. Not only was Allen one of the best hitters during the pitcher-friendly era of the Sixties and early Seventies, but he was also a quite colorful figure.
Here are ten unusual facts about Allen's career, which spanned fifteen years.
1. Allen was one of only two players in MLB history to win the Rookie of the Year Award in the National League and then be chosen as Most Valuable Player in the American league. (The other, by the way, was a Hall of Famer named Frank Robinson.) He won the former when breaking in with the Phillies in 1964, and eight seasons later took the MVP with the 1972 White Sox.
2. He was the first black player to ever suit up for the Arkansas Travellers in Little Rock, the Phillies farm team in 1962. That distinction no doubt caused a lot of turmoil for Allen, much like it had for Jackie Robinson a decade earlier.
3. "Now I know why they (the Phillies fans) boo Richie all the time. When he hits a home run, there's no souvenir," said Pittsburgh star Willie Stargell after Allen's home run cleared the Coke sign on the roof of Connie Mack Stadium.
4. He had a dual career as an R & B singer, where he was known as Rich Allen on the labels. He and his group The Ebonics once played at a halftime show of a Sixers game.
5. After being pelted with projectiles of everything from fruit to batteries, Allen became the first player in Major League history to wear his batting helmet in the field. It earned him the nickname “Crash Helmet” and “Crash.”
6. Allen was traded to St. Louis in 1970 for Curt Flood, a deal which was subsequently scrapped because Flood refused to go to Philadelphia. He instead sat out the season and, after a series of court cases, he opened the gates to free agency. Instead the Cards sent Willie Montanez, who ironically hit 31 home runs to break the rookie record of 24 Allen had set just six years before.
7. He was traded to the Dodgers for 1969 Rookie of the Year Ted Sizemore, only to have LA trade him to the White Sox for Tommy John the following season.
8. Allen was also the first player to ever hit two inside the park home runs in the same game, both of which came off of future Hall of Fame right hander Bert Blyleven of the Twins.
9. Chicago sold Allen to Atlanta in 1974, but he decided to retire instead of joining the Braves. He came out of retirement the next season to re-join the Phillies, whom he helped lead to a division title.
10. His younger brother Hank spent seven years in the Big Leagues, including two as his teammate on the White Sox. Another brother, Ron, played for one season as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Added Note: Allen's biggest struggles might have come against future Hall of Famer Tom Seaver, who sadly passed away on the very night of Allen's induction. He faced Tom terrific 61 times and, even though he took the hurler deep four times, Seaver fanned him on 22 occasions and limited the career .292 hitter to a .205 batting average.