Former first baseman Dick Allen, an all-time Philadelphia Phillies great, died on Monday afternoon in his Wampum, Pennsylvania home, his official Twitter account announced. He was 78 years old.
Allen emerged as a star in his first full season with the Phillies in 1964, winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award after posting an OPS of .939 with 29 home runs and leading the majors with 13 triples and 125 runs scored. He remained with the team until 1969, making four All-Star teams before being traded to the St. Louis Cardinals.
The right-handed hitter would go on to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox, the team he won the 1972 American League MVP with. He returned to Philadelphia in 1975 and 1976 before finishing his career with the Oakland Athletics in 1977.
While Allen excelled on the field during his tenure in Philadelphia, he faced racist treatment from a city that would not accept a Black star. Allen began wearing a helmet in the field due to items being thrown at him by fans. The racism he faced from fans, teammates and media ultimately led to his original departure from the Phillies.
In the words of former teammate and Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, “[Allen] was a sensitive Black man that refused to be treated as a second-class citizen.”
The unfair perception of Allen in the media has helped keep him out of the Hall a Fame to this day. Despite finishing his career with a .912 OPS, seven All-Star appearances, a Rookie of the Year Award, an MVP, 61.3 career fWAR and having led the AL in home runs twice, he never even received 19% of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s votes.
Allen missed election by one vote from the Golden Era Committee in 2014. He likely would have been voted into the Hall of Fame via the Golden Days Committee this year, but the election was rescheduled for next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Allen’s 156 career OPS+ remains the fifth-highest of any player not in the Hall of Fame.
Allen was inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame in 1994, and finally had his No. 15 retired by the team earlier this year.
“Dick Allen burst onto the 1964 Phillies and immediately established himself as a superstar,” Phillies managing partner John Middleton said when announcing Allen’s number retirement. “His legendary performance on the field gave millions of fans lasting memories. … The Phillies organization is thrilled to give Dick and his family this honor that recognizes his Hall of Fame-worthy career and his legacy as one of the greatest Phillies of all time.”
The team released a statement following Allen’s death to honor his status as a player and “as a courageous warrior who had to overcome far too many obstacles to reach the level he did.”
“Dick’s iconic status will resonate for generations of baseball fans to come as one of the all-time greats to play America’s Pastime,” the team said. “He is now reunited with his beloved daughter, Terri. The Phillies extend their condolences to Dick’s widow, Willa, his family, friends and all his fans from coast to coast.”
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