On Monday, February 12th, Phillies Nation hosted its second Book Club event at Holy Family University in Northeast Philadelphia. The panel of Mitchell Nathanson, Frank Fitzpatrick and Brian Michael discussed the book Crash: The Life and Times of Dick Allen written by Tim Whitaker and Dick Allen. Also in attendance was special guest Mark Carfagno leader of a petition to get Dick Allen inducted into the Baseball Hall Of Fame. While discussing the book, the panel went in depth on several subjects about Allen including: the racism he endured during his time in baseball and Philadelphia, his relationship with the media, and his roots in Western Pennsylvania.
Inside the lines, Allen was unstoppable – having won an MVP award and being a feared hitter during a time when pitchers ruled the game. Allen hit .292 with 351 home-runs over the course of his career and to this day has numbers that stand up with plenty of hall of famers. He was also discussed as being one of the more overlooked and underappreciated ball players in history because he lacked exposure – which was partly due to his standoffish nature with the press.
As many remember and those who read the book will understand, Allen has always been a private guy. He didn’t want much – just the ability to play the game of baseball and receive the same treatment as the white stars like Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams. The panel not only discussed this but also the treatment and expectations of black baseball players who came in the wake of the legendary Jackie Robinson. These were expectations and a mold that didn’t fit Allen.
By the end of the discussion it was quite clear; while Allen was a phenomenal baseball player he was a misunderstood person. Allen was temperamental and actually preferred the company of his horses and car. Yet there has always been two sides to Dick Allen. One anecdote recounted from the book described the times when Allen would buy drinks all night for an entire bar – but never let any one know it was him.
The hour-long discussion was followed by a half dozen questions from the audience and social media. Overall, it was a great event with lots of interesting facts about Dick Allen and Philadelphia history. Yet, it only began to scratch the surface on how fascinating of a person Dick Allen is. We encourage everyone to sign Mark’s petition and follow the news when the Hall of Fame votes again on Dick’s induction in 2020.
In the meantime, be on the look out for a podcast/video recap coming soon as well as the announcement for the next book we’ll be reading!