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Dick Allen, a amateur awareness with the Philadelphia Phillies who afterwards won the American League’s Best Valuable Amateur Award and was advised one of the best accomplished and blurred baseball players of the 1960s and 1970s, died Dec. 7 at his home in Wampum, Pa. He was 78.
His afterlife was appear by the Phillies, for whom he played nine years. He reportedly had cancer.
Mr. Allen was amid the best feared hitters of his generation, arena in an era that included such acclaimed sluggers as Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Willie McCovey, Harmon Killebrew and Reggie Jackson.
He hit 351 home runs during his 15-year career and was alleged to seven All Brilliant teams. Some baseball historians accept alleged Mr. Allen the best amateur not anointed in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
He wore glasses and, at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, was not abnormally imposing, but “I bethink actuality abashed by him,” above bullpen Steve Blass told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2017. Mr. Allen came to the bowl with a 42-ounce bat, a acceptable eight ounces added than best players used.
“He looked beggarly and he looked able and he looked like he could exhausted you up,” Blass said. “And he ashamed the ball. I’ve heard added players say he ability accept been the arch guy they anytime saw.”
For abundant of his career, Mr. Allen’s efforts to affirmation a admeasurement of claimed ability and ancestral pride led the bourgeois baseball enactment to characterization him a alarming irritant. His aboriginal organization, the Phillies, had been the aftermost aggregation in the National Alliance to integrate, a abounding decade afterwards Jackie Robinson had burst baseball’s blush barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.
The Phillies’ publicists bestowed the name “Richie” on Mr. Allen, abundant to his dismay. Afterwards abutting the Chicago White Sox in 1972, he asked to be alleged “Dick,” the name he had acclimated aback childhood.
In 1963, the Phillies assigned Mr. Allen to their top acreage team, again in Little Rock, Ark. He was aloof 21 and had the added burden of actuality the aboriginal Atramentous able amateur on a predominantly White aggregation in Arkansas. He was greeted with racist taunts, the windows on his car were burst and the air was let out of his tires.
“Maybe if the Phillies had alleged me in, man to man, like the Dodgers had done with Jackie Robinson,” Mr. Allen said in a 1989 autobiography, accounting with Tim Whitaker, “at atomic I would accept been prepared. Instead, I was on my own.”
Still, he persevered, and by the end of the year was alleged up to the above alliance club. In 1964, his aboriginal abounding division with the Phillies, Mr. Allen hit .318, with 29 home runs and denticulate a league-leading 125 runs. He was alleged National Alliance Amateur of the Year and became Philadelphia’s aboriginal African American baseball star.
During the abutting season, Mr. Allen confronted a White teammate, Frank Thomas, over a perceived ancestral slight, and punched him the jaw. Thomas retaliated by arresting Mr. Allen in the accept with a baseball bat.
The Phillies appear Thomas, but abounding admirers took his ancillary in the dispute, and Mr. Allen was branded a malcontent. Nevertheless, he connected to excel on the field, recording 40 homers and a .317 batting boilerplate — both career highs — in 1966. His time in Philadelphia, however, was apparent by growing dissatisfaction, including a abiding beck of abhorrence mail.
“I can comedy anywhere — first, third, larboard acreage — anywhere but Philadelphia,” Mr. Allen said.
Over the years, he bankrupt aggregation rules and threatened to demolition his career. He showed up backward for games, absent flights and on at atomic one break was clumsy to comedy because he had been drinking. At one point, he was abeyant for 26 games.
“He could handle a aerial fastball,” administrator Gene Mauch said of Mr. Allen. “It was the fast bottle that gave him trouble.”
Mauch was accursed in 1969 in allotment because of his disability to accumulate Mr. Allen beneath control. Mauch’s replacement, Bob Skinner, accommodated beneath agnate circumstances. Aback George Myatt became the Phillies’ third administrator in 1969, he said, “Good God hisself couldn’t handle Richie Allen.”
Fans threw bill and bottles at Mr. Allen on the field, arch him to abrasion a batting helmet at all times. Afterwards the 1969 season, he was traded to St. Louis, again a year afterwards was alien to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He concluded up with the White Sox in 1972.
The Chicago manager, Chuck Tanner, who had accepted Mr. Allen aback his adolescence in Pennsylvania, accustomed him to set his own schedule, as continued as he was accessible to comedy by bold time. The airy affection was axiomatic in one of Sports Illustrated’s best memorable awning photographs, assuming Mr. Allen in the dugout in abounding uniform, bamboozlement three baseballs, with a cigarette blind out of his mouth.
He became the baton of an overachieving aggregation that was in the banderole chase all season. During a doubleheader adjoin the New York Yankees on June 4, 1972, Tanner captivated Mr. Allen out of the additional game, saying, “I appetite to accord him a rest. Anyway I’m extenuative him to hit the game-winning home run in the ninth inning.”
Mr. Allen was bistro a chili dog in the adviser aback the alarm came for him to pinch-hitter in the basal of the ninth, with the White Sox trailing, 4-2. As his administrator predicted, he came through with a three-run adjudicator off analgesic Sparky Lyle to win the game, 5-4, as about 52,000 admirers exulted.
In a year bedeviled by pitching, Mr. Allen led the American Alliance in home runs (37) and RBI (113) and added statistical categories, such as on-base allotment and slugging. He calmly won the MVP Award.
At 30, he was baseball’s highest-paid player, at $225,000 a year. Slowed by a burst leg in 1973, he bounced aback the abutting division to advance the American Alliance in home runs.
Mr. Allen alternate to Philadelphia for two seasons, mentoring approaching Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, afore finishing his career with the Oakland A’s in 1977.
“People said there was one set of rules for me and addition for the blow of the team,” Mr. Allen told Sports Illustrated in 1993. “When I was advancing up, atramentous players couldn’t break in the aforementioned auberge or eat in the aforementioned places as whites. Two sets of rules? Baseball set the tone.”
Richard Anthony Allen was built-in March 8, 1942, in Wampum, Pa., a baby boondocks about 35 afar arctic of Pittsburgh. Afterwards his ancestor larboard the family, his mother took in laundry and aloft nine accouchement on her own.
During his youth, Mr. Allen accomplished batting by hitting rocks with a besom handle. He formed on farms and developed a constant adulation of horses. An all-state basketball amateur in aerial school, he was recruited by added than 50 colleges but active with the Phillies for a benefit of about $60,000. (Two of his brothers, Hank and Ron, additionally played above alliance baseball.)
After his arena career, Mr. Allen accomplished horses and formed as a accessory alliance adviser for the Phillies. The aggregation retired his compatible number, 15, in September.
Mr. Allen bootless to acquire abundant votes on the Hall of Fame ballot, but new forms of statistical assay accept led to a reevaluation of his career. In 2014, a Hall of Fame veterans board advised Mr. Allen for enshrinement, but he fell abbreviate by a distinct vote.
His alliance to Barbara Moore concluded in divorce. They had three children, including a daughter, Terri, who was dead in a murder-suicide in Prince George’s County in 1991. Mr. Allen’s survivors accommodate his wife, the above Willa King; a complete account of survivors could not be confirmed.
For all his iconoclasm, Mr. Allen had a simple, acceptable access to baseball. He banned of the appointed hitter and did not like to comedy on bogus turf, arch to one of the sport’s best-known quips.
“If a horse can’t eat it,” he said, “I don’t appetite to comedy on it.”
Read added Washington Post obituaries
Bob Gibson, alarming Hall of Fame bullpen with a afire fastball, dies at 84
Joe Morgan, Hall of Fame additional baseman who sparked the Big Red Machine, dies at 77
Tom Seaver, Hall of Fame bullpen for New York’s ‘Miracle Mets’ of ’69, dies at 75
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