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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sielski: A friend fights for ex-Phillie Dick Allen’s Hall of Fame induction

Welcome back,
Your dreams were to knock Bill James out.

“Bill James,” Frog said. “That’s how it all started, I think. I’d like to punch him in the face.”

The author, historian, and sabermetrician, James wrote in 1984 that Allen “did more to keep his teams from winning than anyone else who ever played major league baseball.” As far as Frog’s concerned, that single sentence, from so influential a voice, has done more to damage Allen’s chances of induction than anything else. Yet time has hardly softened James’ stance.

“What seems to me to be unarguably true is that Dick Allen was a fantastically powerful disruptive force on the teams that he played for,” James wrote in a recent e-mail interview. “For people who are too young to remember, I think you could describe it as Terrell Owens times three. . . .

“So some ignorant . . . wants to punch me in the face about something I wrote 30 years ago, that’s life in the big city.”

Allen, of course, might change that perception merely by opening up more, but he won’t do it. Frog has talked to him about it. He has gotten nowhere.

It doesn’t bother Frog. It shouldn’t bother anyone, because whether Dick Allen gets into the Hall of Fame or even cares whether he gets into the Hall of Fame, the e-mails and the phone calls and the hours Frog has spent in front of that basement computer come down to something bigger, something everlasting, something more important than an athlete’s likeness immortalized on a bronze museum plaque.

Repoz Posted: October 18, 2014 at 09:32 PM | 186 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, history, phillies

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   1. Leroy Kincaid Posted: October 18, 2014 at 09:53 PM (#4820529)
It's almost insulting when I get a Repoz reference.
   2. BDC Posted: October 18, 2014 at 10:57 PM (#4820552)
There is very little left to be said about Allen & the Hall of Fame, but this is a nice character sketch of someone still consumed by the topic.
   3. Howie Menckel Posted: October 18, 2014 at 11:06 PM (#4820557)
per HOM, without the melodrama, Allen has not gotten elected - but his career has produced a lot more votes and discussion than most of the "Why Isn't Riggs Stephenson in the Hall of Fame" nonsense that we get. His peak was truly great, and a few aftershocks.

I recall Riggs from an early 1970s Baseball Digest...
   4. Walt Davis Posted: October 18, 2014 at 11:43 PM (#4820575)
James' influence has little/nothing to do with this. All debuted on the ballot for 1983 ... and got under 5%. It was a tough time then and he, Santo and others were re-instated in 1985. Allen got 7.1%. He was never gonna get there through the writers.

Not to mention the fact that almost nobody, and certainly almost no HoF voters, were reading James in 1984.

James's stance might have meant that Allen's candidacy was doomed to never become a saber cause or that he'd get nowhere with VCs. But rightly or wrongly, the voters had made up their mind about Allen long before James stuck his nose in.

Obviously I've read it a bejillion times but it never sank in that Allen was the main piece going the other way in the Curt Flood trade.

Allen was RoY on that 64 Phils team that collapsed. In Sept that year, he hit 343/434/618 ... pretty sure it wasn't his fault. The collapse began on Sept 16 ... From then to the end of the season, Allen hit 386/449/657.

The 65-69 Phils weren't going anywhere no matter how many games Allen's surliness might have cost. Neither were the 70 Cards.

The 71 Dodgers missed by just 1 game so maybe his disruption was costly -- but then he hit 295/395/468, a 151 OPS+ in Dodgers stadium in those days. That was good for 5.4 WAR and it was one of his less embarrassing years at 3B (just -8). In Sept that year he hit 327/405/500 which looks like doing his part. Interestingly they had 5 games against the Giants in Sept, winning all 5 but still couldn't close the gap (the Giants were trying to repeat the 64 Phils). In those 5 games, Allen went 7 for 20 with 2 BB, 1 HR and 1 double.

Allen won the MVP for the 72 White Sox. That team finished 6 games back but was in first as late as Aug 28 and still 1.5 games back at the end of Aug before going 16-15 down the stretch (a 154 game season due to labor stoppage). Down the stretch he hit 259/366/518 which was definitely off his season pace but hardly a problem. They had just 4 games against the A's going 2-2 with Allen going 4-15 with a double and a HR.

In 73 he was on his way to another possible MVP, hitting 310/390/612 before breaking his leg at the end of June, effectively ending his season. The Sox were an unspectacular 37-32 at the time of the injury although that was good enough to be just 1 back. They went 40-53 the rest of the way.

In 74, Allen was undeniably disruptive, not playing after Sept 8 and leaving the team for good on Sept 14 (per Wiki). The Sox had a brief run of relevance through May but were out of it by the AS break. Allen's departure clearly didn't help things and his dissatisfaction along the way surely didn't help -- no excuses for any of that but that team wasn't going anywhere. 301/375/563 by the way.

75 was a mess. Sold to the Braves, he retired rather than play. The Phils got him back in mid-May 75 and he wasn't any good. A solid team but well back. I'm not aware of any issues with Allen that year.

In 76 the Phils peaked, winning 101 games. It seems to have been an injury-plagued season unless there were desertion issues not mentioned by Wiki. He misses 18 games starting in late April then 40 games starting in late July. 268/346/480 was very good but I wonder if he was genuinely recovered. He was hitting 289/370/526 before the second absence then just 200/263/329 in Sept. (The Phils didn't need him, they had a 10 game lead.) Those Sept numbers look like his 1977 A's numbers, the end of his career.

I don't have a big problem with Allen not in the HoF. He was a great peak, short career guy. So he's borderline and you don't have to think his surliness costs his teams 20 wins or something to keep him out.

And as good as that peak was, it wasn't historic. Post-integration, ages 22-31 he had 34 WAA. That's 2 wins ahead of Beltran, 1 ahead of Grich, tied with Trammell, 1 behind Utley, 2 behind Rolen, 2 behind Santo, 6 behind Bagwell -- we might put all those guys in easily but the BBWAA didn't or likely won't. Even looking just at 64-73, that peak is "only" 6th -- he was 12 wins behind Clemente, 11 behind Aaron and even 5 behind Santo in 5th.

   5. Sunday silence Posted: October 19, 2014 at 12:05 AM (#4820584)
Walt: HOw can you write that many words; do that much meticulous numbers research and avoid/ignore to very salient pts:

A) HE wrote the article in 1984, Allen debuted in '83 and;

b) James was enormously influential in getting Santo into the Hall. He has to be considered influential (Largely?somewhat?) in getting Blyleven in as well? No?

It's hard to even understand why you go through all that detailed minutia about Allen hitting in Sept. when in fact that really has nothing to do with your theseis: that Bill James didnt stop Allen from the Hall.

I mean that is your thesis, yes? Cause you started out by saying that and it turned into a mini story about Allen and his career. Which was very nice, as always. Highly detailed, well written, concise etc.

But what does any of that have to do with Bill James and ALlens candidacy? You say James had nothing to do with that and the reason is........??


Well what's the reason?
   6. PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina Posted: October 19, 2014 at 12:27 AM (#4820591)
Bill James wrote the quoted line in the context of asserting, as I believe he still does, that eventually Dick Allen absolutely will get into the Hall of Fame, because the farther we get from his career the less his case will rest upon people's memories of him and the more it will rest upon his statistics, by which he's qualified. Not fantastically qualified, but qualified.
   7. ReggieThomasLives Posted: October 19, 2014 at 12:28 AM (#4820593)
It's hard to even understand why you go through all that detailed minutia about Allen hitting in Sept. when in fact that really has nothing to do with your theseis: that Bill James didnt stop Allen from the Hall.

I mean that is your thesis, yes? Cause you started out by saying that and it turned into a mini story about Allen and his career. Which was very nice, as always. Highly detailed, well written, concise etc.

But what does any of that have to do with Bill James and ALlens candidacy? You say James had nothing to do with that and the reason is........??


Well what's the reason?


Wow. Just. Wow.
   8. PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina Posted: October 19, 2014 at 12:30 AM (#4820594)
Bill James wasn't influential with Hall of Fame voters in the 1980s. At all.

Also, did James write that in 1984? Is there a cite? I ask because the exact quote appears in The Politics of Glory and I'm wondering if he lifted it from something he wrong earlier.
   9. Sunday silence Posted: October 19, 2014 at 01:36 AM (#4820608)
The article appeared in one of those SABR magazines from the 80s; I'm assuming '84 because the excerpt says he wrote this line in 1984; and that line is part of that article as I recall. I actually purchased that issue from Andy/Jolly St Nick.

How do you actually prove the negative hypothesis, without like actually showing how these writers think and what they read etc?
   10. bjhanke Posted: October 19, 2014 at 03:28 AM (#4820624)
Sunday - Not complaining about what you said, but you have a typo. Allen debuted in 1963, not 83. I'm sure you knew that; it's just a typo.

There are two superstar players that Bill just plain does not like: Rogers Hornsby and Dick Allen. In the New Historical, he says that there are only four players who might qualify as the worst horse's asses in baseball history: Cobb, Chase, Hornsby and Allen. He then says that he might choose Hornsby, even over Hal Chase. I love Bill's work, but that's going too far. Hal Chase laps the field of worst people who played major league baseball for any length of time. In any case, Bill continues to actually make a case that Ty Cobb wasn't as bad as he might be perceived, in his Cobb comment. But then, in his Dick Allen comment, he says, "Allen is the second most controversial player in MLB history, behind Hornsby." Which means that he thinks that Dick Allen was a worse horse's ass than Chase. And again, Bill has lost me there.

One odd thing in the New Historical: Bill, in his Maury Wills comment, goes to some length to list Wills' failings, but then says that this sounds worse than it was, because Wills grew up as a black kid at a time when the white world thought that pissing on black kids was a sport. Well, Dick Allen grew up in the same environment. I don't understand why he doesn't get cut the same break as Wills. I want to add that, though I am certainly not black, I grew up right next to that environment at about the same time (I was born in 1947). At that time, Webster Groves, a suburb of St. Louis, was de facto segregated. White people did not go north of Kirkham Avenue, and black people did not go south of it. I lived one block south of Kirkham. I also played baseball, when a kid, constantly in a little private park right on the southeast corner of Kirkham and Newport. We NEVER, even ONCE, saw a black kid watching us play, much less asking if he could cross the street and play with us, which we would certainly have said YES! to. So, I don't think that Bill is overestimating that climate at all. It was really that bad in the 1950s.

I should add that I have never met Dick Allen, and so am going with secondary and tertiary sources only. And Bill also did say that Dick Allen could be charming when he wanted to be. It's similar to what he says about Ty Cobb. He says that Cobb didn't act out unless he felt threatened, but that he felt threatened a lot. I think, based on such sources as I have, that the same might be true of Dick Allen. - Brock Hanke
   11. stevegamer Posted: October 19, 2014 at 03:34 AM (#4820625)
I would say that there is roughly a 99% chance Allen is not the guy who cost his team more wins than anyone else in baseball, and that that less hyperbole than James' quote.

While it's true we cannot analyze all the things that don't show up in his player record, the player record is so good, that's it's pretty unfathomable that he cost his team that much with off-the field stuff, and then you;d have to normalize for him being black in highly racist 60's & early 70's Philadelphia.

   12. stig-tossled,hornswoggled gef the talking mongoose Posted: October 19, 2014 at 05:00 AM (#4820631)
It doesn't help much when we realize, as he's proven more than once over the last few years, that on certain subjects Bill James is an absolute loon.
   13. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: October 19, 2014 at 05:14 AM (#4820632)
brock

i think he meant debuted on the hall of fame ballot. that makes more sense. i did not check to see when allen showed up on the hof ballot
   14. Chris Fluit Posted: October 19, 2014 at 08:00 AM (#4820637)
#3. Howie, your memory must be failing you. Per the HoM, Allen was easily elected in his first year of eligibility ('83). When the HoM later voted to rank inductees by position, Allen finished 9th out of 18 third basemen.
   15. AndrewJ Posted: October 19, 2014 at 08:08 AM (#4820639)
Pass.
   16. Tubbs is Bobby Grich when he flys off the handle Posted: October 19, 2014 at 09:01 AM (#4820644)
I think James' comments about Allen did little to affect his BBWAA candidacy but maybe have colored many of James' readers opinions of Allen. I remember reading it in Whatever Happened to the HOF, the paperback version of Politics of Glory. In recent years, I've seen most pro-Allen HOF articles attempt to combat James' comments

Career length obviously hurts Allen. He retired shy of 2,000 games played and hits. He belongs on the Golden Era ballot. Whether he makes it or not, the top vote getters should be these holdovers from the 2011 election: Miñoso, Kaat, Hodges, and Oliva
   17. BDC Posted: October 19, 2014 at 09:18 AM (#4820648)
you;d have to normalize for him being black in highly racist 60's & early 70's Philadelphia

I disagree. When people critique Dick Allen for being unprofessional – and there's no question he was, near the end of his first stint in Philly and near the end of his Chicago years – one warrant for the critique is that there were lots of black players in that era who faced racism and were impeccably professional.

Curt Flood is the most obvious contrast. He didn't want to play in Philly*, so he went about civilly disobeying the labor structure of baseball, and challenging it through the legal system.

The height of Allen's career corresponds to the height of Hank Aaron's fame, when Aaron played in highly racist Atlanta in the face of death threats. Aaron reacted a bit differently.

Among Allen's teammates in his bizarre last couple of years in Philly were Bill White, Tony Taylor, Tony Gonzalez, Johnny Briggs, Larry Hisle, Grant Jackson: a collection of class acts who didn't feel the need to scrawl stuff in the dirt and space out in the dugout.

I tend to agree with Walt that you still can't truly show that Allen cost his teams anything. And the idea that he was historically disruptive is, as others have said, absurd. But he gets no "normalization" from me. He was far from alone in his circumstances, rough as they were.

* Actually I believe Flood's position was that he was fine with the Phillies per se, he just didn't want to be traded there like chattel. But it sounds better to put it that way :)
   18. toratoratora Posted: October 19, 2014 at 09:29 AM (#4820650)
Bill James,” Frog said. “That’s how it all started, I think. I’d like to punch him in the face.”


No, that's now how it started. It began with Allen getting, and keeping, hell, sometimes nurturing (Getting exiled from the ChiSox for instance), a reputation for being a selfish team killing player.*
Give the man his credit where it's due. Don't be stealing his thunder and pawning it off on someone else.

As for HoF voting, James had almost no influence on that in the early 80's. With Allen, he didn't need to be. There were plenty of older to elderly media members who had their own encounters/opinions on Allen and had zero desire/need/want for input for some KC wingnut math geek who never left his mothers basement, didn't watch games and hated baseball.


*Note that I'm not saying his rep is 100% accurate, just stating that it existed and continues to exist. I started really following baseball in 1975 so I'm a bit young to fully recall Allen as a force but pretty much through my childhood Allen was seen as a player nobody in their right mind touched. I can say that when he retired I can't recall hearing anyone, and I mean anyone, discuss him as a future HoF player until I read James. Allen was seen as a kinda MLB version of Rod Stewart-tons of talent, a few early great records, then a sell out and collapse epic in nature and impact, except Allen "took teams down" with him too. He was a pretty unpopular player with the writers, IIRC, which can be the kiss of doom to any remotely borderline HoF case.
   19. bjhanke Posted: October 19, 2014 at 09:30 AM (#4820651)
BDC - I have a little more info than you do about Flood, because I knew a couple of STL sportswriters for a while. What they thought was that Curt Flood, whose birth father had to work two full-time jobs just to keep the family afloat, and was seldom seen by Curt, was in need of a father figure, and found him in STL owner Gussie Busch. Gussie bonded with Flood, and bought some of Flood's paintings. When Curt found out that Gussie had traded him, he responded just like anyone who has suddenly been turned upon by his father. What Curt REALLY wanted was to go back to STL, to Gussie. He didn't have any problem with the Phillies, except that they were not Gussie.

Also, when I am talking about the racial climate of these players, I'm talking about the racial climate when they were little kids and teenagers. That's before they became professional baseball players. But it's their foundation environment for their personalities. Some did get by with little harm, but Frank Robinson, for example, did not, and neither did Wills or Allen. They all had short fuses. Now, it is true that other blacks who were in the same environment did not end up with that much damage, but that's just the normal range of personal responses to personal treatment. - Brock
   20. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: October 19, 2014 at 10:06 AM (#4820661)
Also, did James write that in 1984? Is there a cite? I ask because the exact quote appears in The Politics of Glory and I'm wondering if he lifted it from something he wrong earlier.


I thought he might have said something similarly disparaging in the original Historical Abstract in 1984, but I just looked and he did not. Yes, that quote was from 1994, by which time Allen had been on the ballot 11 years, never cracking 20%, and who in 1996 reached his peak vote total. No evidence that quote swayed as much as one voter.
   21. BDC Posted: October 19, 2014 at 10:17 AM (#4820664)
Brock, you are generally informed better on most things than I am :) That's very interesting background on Flood and Busch.

Frank Robinson is a significant comparison. Not exactly Ernie Banks in the sunny-disposition department. But Robinson (from all I can tell) channeled his anger and intensity into extreme professionalism. I have no idea whether Robinson is well-liked. (I sense that Allen is well-liked by a lot of people.) But I do know that Robinson is well-respected: indeed, nobody could stay in the game so long at such high levels without commanding such respect.
   22. OsunaSakata Posted: October 19, 2014 at 10:25 AM (#4820665)
I may have mentioned before that I knew a clubhouse guy for the Phillies who said that Dick Allen was the nicest guy of the players he knew.

At the time Albert Belle retired, Dick Allen was the most similar player. Since then, Juan Gone, Berkman and Teixeira have passed Allen on Albert's similarity list. Belle is probably more Hall-worthy, but neither really are.

Who is considered the worst human being among active players? A.J. Pierzynski?
   23. Moeball Posted: October 19, 2014 at 10:27 AM (#4820666)
Also, when I am talking about the racial climate of these players, I'm talking about the racial climate when they were little kids and teenagers. That's before they became professional baseball players. But it's their foundation environment for their personalities. Some did get by with little harm, but Frank Robinson, for example, did not, and neither did Wills or Allen. They all had short fuses. Now, it is true that other blacks who were in the same environment did not end up with that much damage, but that's just the normal range of personal responses to personal treatment. - Brock


While the "official statement" coming out of the Reds front office about the Reds trading Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas was that they were employing the Branch Rickey standard of "better to get rid of a player a year too early rather than a year too late" - the real motivation behind the urge to unload Robinson, which came out much later, was that Frank was considered a cancer in the clubhouse by Reds management. Translation: he was an outspoken leader with growing influence over other black players on the team such as Vada Pinson and management didn't like it.

I suspect a similar kind of thing happened with Dick Allen. First of all, he hated being called "Richie" because it made him sound like a little kid, and all the media in the '60s called him "Richie". While many other black players of the time suffered racial slurs every bit as much as Allen, most have better public images as "handled it better" than Allen did but, quite frankly, they also basically just took it and didn't speak out about the injustices they were facing. Any black person in the '60s who was outspoken was seen as "scary" by most of White America at the time.

James was enormously influential in getting Santo into the Hall. He has to be considered influential (Largely?somewhat?) in getting Blyleven in as well? No?


Uh, Santo somewhat, Blyleven, not really. Yes, James wrote that Blyleven was a deserving HOFer, but the one who really had the most influence in championing Bert's cause was Rich Lederer. I think Blyleven even thanked Lederer in his induction speech.
   24. Greg K Posted: October 19, 2014 at 10:34 AM (#4820669)
I think James' comments about Allen did little to affect his BBWAA candidacy but maybe have colored many of James' readers opinions of Allen. I remember reading it in Whatever Happened to the HOF, the paperback version of Politics of Glory. In recent years, I've seen most pro-Allen HOF articles attempt to combat James' comments

Having been born in 1983 until recently my impression of Dick Allen had been heavily influenced by Bill James. The more I read about Allen the less power the Jamesian interpretation has, but it is my starting point (as it is I would think for many baseball fans of a certain age).
   25. Howie Menckel Posted: October 19, 2014 at 10:38 AM (#4820672)

"Howie, your memory must be failing you. Per the HoM, Allen was easily elected in his first year of eligibility ('83)."

thanks, Chris, you are correct. That blunder reminds me that the Blyleven/Rice/Morris/Santo/Trammell guys will get talked about forever - until they get elected, at which point they are never mentioned again. We had some good Allen discussion, but then he got elected right away - and no more talk, and no more remembrance even from a voter!
:)
   26. Greg K Posted: October 19, 2014 at 10:39 AM (#4820673)
Uh, Santo somewhat, Blyleven, not really. Yes, James wrote that Blyleven was a deserving HOFer, but the one who really had the most influence in championing Bert's cause was Rich Lederer. I think Blyleven even thanked Lederer in his induction speech.

Maybe "indirectly" is the word that fits best there rather than "largely" or "somewhat".
   27. dejarouehg Posted: October 19, 2014 at 11:07 AM (#4820684)
First of all, he hated being called "Richie" because it made him sound like a little kid, and all the media in the '60s called him "Richie".
Is "Dick" actually an upgrade over "Richie?"

   28. dejarouehg Posted: October 19, 2014 at 11:10 AM (#4820685)
In the New Historical, he says that there are only four players who might qualify as the worst horse's asses in baseball history: Cobb, Chase, Hornsby and Allen.
I will assume this list only addresses HoF-level players for a list like this without Belle (awfully close) and Mel Hall (and I am sure numerous others) seems worth challenging.
   29. Morty Causa Posted: October 19, 2014 at 11:20 AM (#4820690)
Bill James,” Frog said. “That’s how it all started, I think. I’d like to punch him in the face.”

That's not where it started. It started with Dick Allen and with the way he behaved and the way his teammates reacted to that, and contemporary records attest to that. Bill James wasn't telling anyone who was a fan when Allen played anything they didn't know. He merely reviewed, summarized, and assessed the case against Allen, and then he placed his imprimatur on that already existing view.

Ball Four, a record of the 1969 season, notes and comments on the Allen brouhaha. As I remember, Bouton comes down ultimately on the side of excusing Allen's behavior on (get this) the grounds that there are different rules for the superior player. But he does emphatically note the fact that Allen was loathed by many many for his antics--players, management, writers, and fans. And there was a general feeling that Allen's behavior was very bad for team cohesiveness and morale.

But Allen has his defenders. One is Jim Kaat. He is one of the few who have tried to paint a different picture of Allen. He doesn’t so much deny the case against Allen--Allen did what he did and was viewed how he was--as go on record as stating that the bad behavior wasn't all of the story. I read Kaat's defense of Allen in Cult Baseball Players, edited by Danny Peary. I remember it as a good piece, temperate in tone and fair and even in laying out his reminiscences wrt Allen.
   30. Matt Welch Posted: October 19, 2014 at 11:55 AM (#4820708)
Frank was considered a cancer in the clubhouse by Reds management.

He was considered a rival to Angels' management during his time in Anaheim -- more of a clubhouse lawyer than a cancer -- prompting his trade after two successful seasons. Though in fairness he never hit again.
   31. BDC Posted: October 19, 2014 at 12:13 PM (#4820712)
Interesting on Kaat, Morty. Kaat was Allen's teammate in 1976 in Philadelphia, when it seems Allen was a good influence and credited by some with helping the Phillies get over the top into the playoffs: though even there, there are competing stories about whether he was divisive or beneficial. It wasn't a racial divisiveness, or not entirely, though, as Mike Schmidt was also an Allen ally.

As to the name "Dick," it amazes me the way there was a moratorium on that nickname at a certain juncture. All sorts of guys over 60, like Allen, are still called Dick without the slightest embarrassment, but it's hard to think of anyone under 60 who would be caught dead answering to it.
   32. Greg K Posted: October 19, 2014 at 12:48 PM (#4820726)
As to the name "Dick," it amazes me the way there was a moratorium on that nickname at a certain juncture. All sorts of guys over 60, like Allen, are still called Dick without the slightest embarrassment, but it's hard to think of anyone under 60 who would be caught dead answering to it.

I have a couple friends my age who are familiarly known as "Rich". I don't think it even occurred to me until now that "Dick" was a possibility. Although my dad's best friend (late 60s now) is named Rich, but I've never heard anyone call him Dick. Though my dad's friends are mostly known by made up names anyway. There's "Bear", "Duke", my dad is "Kabe" (though that's just a short form of his last name). So for all I know this Rich fellow is actually named Archibald.

Even today though there is something about university that brings out nicknames. I generally call all my childhood friends by their given name, but those that I met in university are "Steve" (actual name Ryan), "Shaggy" (also actual name Ryan), "Jackal" (Jordan) and "Old Man Utke" (Jordon), or my own that always jars me when I meet a university friend because I usually haven't heard it in ages, "Kibble". I suppose it at least partly comes from meeting a bunch of new people all at once but without the structure of kindergarten where you have a teacher forcing you to introduce yourselves to each other. At least a few of the nicknames sprout from no one bothering to ask for a name until after we'd spent 4 months watching the Simpsons every day after dinner.
   33. Roger McDowell spit on me! Posted: October 19, 2014 at 01:08 PM (#4820731)
Kaat was also Allen's teammate in 1974 with Chicago, which is the year Allen left the team in September.

One of the things I remember the most as a kid was the fact Allen got traded every year, which as a youngster I found odd...why trade a guy who is so good? I also remember seeing all the "troubled" articles in places like Baseball Digest when I first started following baseball. I am guessing many of those writers were still around when Allen came up on the HOF ballot; there was no way he was ever getting in that way.

If Allen doesn't get traded by the Dodgers to the White Sox for Tommy John, we'd likely be calling a now famous surgery by some other name today...
   34. RMc Has Bizarre Ideas to Fix Baseball Posted: October 19, 2014 at 01:14 PM (#4820733)
Among Allen's teammates in his bizarre last couple of years in Philly were Bill White, Tony Taylor, Tony Gonzalez, Johnny Briggs, Larry Hisle, Grant Jackson: a collection of class acts who didn't feel the need to scrawl stuff in the dirt and space out in the dugout.


Of course, there's self-selection going on here; blacks who couldn't/wouldn't put up with racial abuse usually didn't make the majors. Allen was so talented, despite his personality flaws, he was able to be not just an MLB player but a star.

First of all, he hated being called "Richie" because it made him sound like a little kid, and all the media in the '60s called him "Richie".

Is "Dick" actually an upgrade over "Richie?"


"Great game, Richie!"
"Thanks, but from now on I don't want to be called that. I want to you to use a name that respects me as a man."
"What's that?"
"DICK...!"
   35. Roger McDowell spit on me! Posted: October 19, 2014 at 01:17 PM (#4820735)
And just to add a little...I think of Allen in some ways like I think some teammates think of Barry Bonds. Both had a chip on their shoulder, but were extraordinary takents. Once with the White Sox, Allen got a lot of special treatment in the clubhouse, much like Bonds did with the Giants. Some teammates I'm sure resented that, but you'll find a bunch of people that played with both guys who think they were great teammates. Allen obviously had some other scrapes, but I think if he had started his career just 5 years later (around the same time as Reggie Jackson), it would have made a big difference in the perception of him as a person.
   36. BDC Posted: October 19, 2014 at 01:26 PM (#4820737)
I may have posted something like this before (heck, that should be my signature line :) but a lot of Allen's contemporaries were named Dick. To name just the better-known: Groat, Stuart, Radatz, McAuliffe, Howser, Bosman, Dietz, Drago, Ellsworth, Selma, Schofield, Tracewski – the full list is much, much longer. Basically, if you were asking to have the same nickname as Groat or McAuliffe, you were asking to join some unquestionably masculine company.

The last player I remember who was called Dick was Schofield Jr., who was almost literally grandfathered in. Others who played into the 1980s included Tidrow and Ruthven.

Two other bits of Dick trivia. Everybody I've named is white, and offhand I can't think of another black ballplayer named Dick.

And, at the time of the Korean War, there was a big-leaguer named Dick Whitman. No word on whether he also played as Don Draper.
   37. stig-tossled,hornswoggled gef the talking mongoose Posted: October 19, 2014 at 01:34 PM (#4820740)
I read Kaat's defense of Allen in Cult Baseball Players, edited by Danny Peary.


A very fun book, BTW. Even if the title & (Amazon, probably) synopsis hadn't been so enticing, I'm sure I'd have sought it out because I found Peary's Cult Movies (written, as opposed to edited, by him) such rewarding reading in, IIRC, the early '80s.
   38. dejarouehg Posted: October 19, 2014 at 01:34 PM (#4820741)
Once with the White Sox, Allen got a lot of special treatment in the clubhouse, much like Bonds did with the Giants. Some teammates I'm sure resented that, but you'll find a bunch of people that played with both guys who think they were great teammates.
This may be true but I don't recall hearing of a lot of players who felt this way about Bonds or that other Giants' ray of sunshine, Jeff Kent.

Just thinking its probably a good thing Rich Harden didn't use Dick as an alternate name.

   39. stig-tossled,hornswoggled gef the talking mongoose Posted: October 19, 2014 at 01:35 PM (#4820742)
Speaking of notable baseball Dicks, I had lunch yesterday with a lifelong Montgomery resident who mentioned having Dick Pole's autograph on a ball he got from the Montgomery Rebels (Tigers' AA franchise at the time) as a kid. Dunno if Pole was on the roster as a player of a coach, offhand.
   40. Greg Franklin Posted: October 19, 2014 at 01:41 PM (#4820746)
IIRC, James got quite a number of attacks at the time from contemporary sabermetricians for his comments on Allen. Craig Wright, for example, labeled them an ugly hit piece, which the statistical record (documented in #4) did not support.

And the even stat-geekier statheads were offended that James was using a squishy-soft *personal character* (shudder!) argument to reject a slam-dunk entry into the BBHOF.

In one of his circa-1990 Baseball Books, James wrote a complete bio of Allen for the Biographical Encyclopedia project therein. It reiterated the anti-Allen opinions originally written for the Abstracts.

Allen obviously had some other scrapes, but I think if he had started his career just 5 years later (around the same time as Reggie Jackson), it would have made a big difference in the perception of him as a person.


I don't think that's so true. Belle is going down the same rabbit hole of forgetfulness as Allen has, or as T.O. is going in the NFL.
   41. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: October 19, 2014 at 01:47 PM (#4820747)
Hal Chase laps the field of worst people who played major league baseball for any length of time.
Well, there's Mel Hall…

EDIT: I see dejarouehg beat me to it by a bunch.
   42. Tom Nawrocki Posted: October 19, 2014 at 01:50 PM (#4820750)
Two other bits of Dick trivia. Everybody I've named is white, and offhand I can't think of another black ballplayer named Dick.


Dick Davis was black.
   43. Roger McDowell spit on me! Posted: October 19, 2014 at 01:53 PM (#4820751)
I don't think that's so true. Belle is going down the same rabbit hole of forgetfulness as Allen has, or as T.O. is going in the NFL.


There's obviously no way to know, but the early 60's were a very different time than when Belle and Owens started their respective careers and neither of those guys had someone swing a bat at them in a scuffle that was caused by race baiting. Guess I'm really just putting it out there as a point to consider. Guess I should have said "could" instead of "would".
   44. Tom Nawrocki Posted: October 19, 2014 at 01:56 PM (#4820752)
Belle is going down the same rabbit hole of forgetfulness as Allen has, or as T.O. is going in the NFL.


It's interesting that, unlike Allen (and Owens), no team ever voluntarily got rid of Albert Belle. The two times he changed teams, it was as a free agent.
   45. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: October 19, 2014 at 02:03 PM (#4820755)
While the "official statement" coming out of the Reds front office about the Reds trading Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas was that they were employing the Branch Rickey standard of "better to get rid of a player a year too early rather than a year too late" - the real motivation behind the urge to unload Robinson, which came out much later, was that Frank was considered a cancer in the clubhouse by Reds management. Translation: he was an outspoken leader with growing influence over other black players on the team such as Vada Pinson and management didn't like it.
Yes; plus, there were issues. For instance, there was an argument at a diner, and Robinson pulled a gun; he claimed that it was self-defense after a cook pulled a knife on him. Robinson was arrested and ultimately pleaded guilty to a weapons charge. (From the It Really Was a Different Era Department, reported in the newspaper as "Under the law, the Negro ballplayer could have been sentenced to one to three years in prison.") Robinson felt that the Reds management didn't support him -- for instance, they refused to bail him out right away -- and never forgave them. And that wasn't the only police incident.
   46. BDC Posted: October 19, 2014 at 02:28 PM (#4820761)
There are so many individual stories … Robinson had personality issues, as noted, and then went on to have leadership roles and be very central to the baseball establishment for the next 40+ years. Jackson, not really sweetness and light and a wee bit of a narcissist, perhaps, was totally invested in baseball. To paraphrase James Joyce, Reggie Jackson thought he was important because he was a great baseball player. Dick Allen thought baseball was important because Dick Allen was associated with it. But other things, notably horses, competed for Allen's attention.
   47. bobm Posted: October 19, 2014 at 02:46 PM (#4820768)
As to the name "Dick," it amazes me the way there was a moratorium on that nickname at a certain juncture. All sorts of guys over 60, like Allen, are still called Dick without the slightest embarrassment, but it's hard to think of anyone under 60 who would be caught dead answering to it.

Apparently even the frequency of American boys being named Richard is off by about 90% from its peak in the 1940s. It was falling even before Nixon left office. :)
   48. Matt Welch Posted: October 19, 2014 at 04:20 PM (#4820790)
One complication to the rehabilitation of Allen's career rep is Allen himself -- his winning post-career personality stands as a big contrast to his playing days, and he has also in the past criticized his own '60s-'70s behavior/attitude now and again.
   49. Walt Davis Posted: October 19, 2014 at 05:15 PM (#4820811)
A) HE wrote the article in 1984, Allen debuted in '83 and;

Sorry, just getting back to the thread. Not sure what to say to this. The excerpt cites James writing in 1984. My first sentences were: "James' influence has little/nothing to do with this. All[en] debuted on the ballot for 1983." I assume y'all at least read the excerpt and I assume y'all understand that 1983 is before 1984.

But just in case, my 2nd paragraph notes that James wrote in 1984. That also address the potential claim that James helped keep Allen from rising substantially when he came back on the ballot in 85.

And it is possible to have more than one thesis in a post. The claim that James had significant influence on Allen's chances is dealt with in those first 3-4 sentences. I don't consider that a particularly interesting topic of discussion so I went on to other stuff.

b) James was enormously influential in getting Santo into the Hall. He has to be considered influential (Largely?somewhat?) in getting Blyleven in as well? No?

How is this relevant to the question of whether James had influence on Allen's vote totals?

If James had influence on Santo's case, I'm unaware of it. And it's further evidence of his lack of influence given how f'ing long it took and how many times Santo was rejected by the VC too.

As to Blyleven ... I've got my doubts. The interesting thing to me about Blyleven's candidacy is not so much Lederer's intervention (which was cool) but his early years on the ballot.

Blyleven's first year was 1998. Don Sutton is elected. BB debuts 10% behind the two other SP John and Kaat.

In 99, Ryan is elected in a landslide and the other SPs drop in his wake -- John & Kaat by 7-8%, Blyleven by 3%, still comfortably behind those two.

In 00, Kaat and John rebound back to about where they were, Morris debuts at 22% and Blyleven is back at 17% where he started. He's now the #4 SP on the ballot, not good.

01: Morris drops and Blyleven has a big jump and passes him. Now #3 SP.

02: He jumps up a bit again, passes Kaat, essentially tied with John. (Morrris now #4 by the way)

03: Another 3% jump along with a drop by John and Kaat's last year on the ballot. Now a clear #1 with a 6% edge on John and Morris.

This transition from #4 SP about 5% behind Morris and 10% behind John/Kaat to #1 SP with a 6% lead on Morris/John is the transition that put him on the HoF path. Once the #1 SP and with no other SPs of note on the horizon, he was going to steadily climb the vote totals almost no matter what. Whether he'd make it or not was unclear and always possible Morris would see some strange bump to pass him but by this point I think his candidacy is in pretty decent shape.

If James had something to do with that transition then good on him. If Lederer did then good on him but I don't think he got heavily involved until later.

Lederer I think had a lot to do with Blyleven progressing much faster than Morris. After this BB received massive bumps in 2006, 08 and 10. Morris also got good bumps in those years but not nearly enough to keep pace with BB.
   50. Tubbs is Bobby Grich when he flys off the handle Posted: October 19, 2014 at 05:57 PM (#4820826)
Its pretty cool that Blyleven thought enough of Lerderer's support that he invited him to his HOF induction speech. I've asked it before on different threads but never heard a reasoning for why Lerderer stopped writing (his Baseball Analysts website stopped being updated shortly after Bert's induction). I guess he felt fulfilled. He did remark that he supported Bobby Grich's HOF candidacy. We need Lerderer to unretire and get some steam going on Grich's HOF candidacy

I feel like Bill James largely avoids getting heavily involved in any one player's HOF candidacy
   51. stevegamer Posted: October 19, 2014 at 09:06 PM (#4820914)
My point about Allen's treatment in Philadelphia was that it was worse than the other black & latino players because he didn't "know his place". I've heard this as recently for players like Cunningham & McNabb in football - whose major crime was being a black QB; Vick had real crimes so of course he got crap from plenty of segments.

I don't disagree that Allen behaved badly, but what I am saying is that Philadelphia fans treated Allen worse than other dark-skinned players. Philadelphia has a large segment of really stupid fans and a fair number of bigoted fans. They don;t always overlap, but when they do, it's ugly.
   52. Sunday silence Posted: October 20, 2014 at 02:29 AM (#4821006)
A note on the chronology in all this because the excerpt is somewhat incorrect, and what I wrote is also somewhat off. And I know I was confused by what Walt was trying to say about the chronology but I messed up the dates and the books enuf myself to confuse myself without his help.

The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract bears a copyright of 1985; the excerpt refers to a quote from 1984 but I think the year is off.

The quote from Bill James in the excerpt is also not correct; here is the actual quote from the 1985 BJHBA:

"My problem with Hornsby is the same as my problem with Dick Allen, that he said things and did things that made it more difficult for his teams to win. Dick Allen was a nice guy and a lot of his teammates thought the world of him but he did things that disrupted the team at times when they really didnt need the disruption. And so did Hornsby."

That's the entire thing he said in 1985 and I've gone through the index to the book a couple of times now so I think that's all he said in 1985. It's kind of an unfair quote, but nothing like strange assault he made on Allen in the 1994 Politics of Glory book and hardly a big deal.

Dick Allen's Hall of Fame candidacy began in 1982 and ended after the 1996 ballot. He got as high as 9th place in the vote in 1993, he got his highest % in 1996 with 19%. He was usually around 16% and 11th place those last 5-6 years on the ballot. He made a large jump from 1989-90 going from 7.8% and 19th place to 13% and 14th. He was never ahead of Santo in all those years, he was always or almost always ahead of Torre (not known for managing at that point).

The Politics of Glory has copyright of 1994, I think that's where the quote in the excerpt comes from but am too tired right now to make sure. The Craig Wright response is in the Baseball Research Journal, Number 24, 1995 (thanks, Andy!).

I will get back to the Wright piece later, a few other tidbits I picked up along the way:

On page 449 of the BJHBA, James lists his best baseball players by career, for the 20th century, and Dick Allen comes in 65th! WHich is surprising in any number of ways, for one thing Allen's career is so fairly short to make a career all time list; and also because it really makes a good case for Allen as HoF'er which I dont think many of us here would make. I think part of this is an inability to come to grip with defensive stats or ability to put a value on perceived defensive value (without using stats). Here are some other players from James's list:

Santo 71; Clemente 75; Kaline 52, Ernie Banks 38.

It's kind of odd, I would put Clemente a bit higher and Kaline a bit lower, I dont see Kaline as better career than Clemente. I dont think Banks gets that high if you put any serious consideration into defense.

Also from the Baseball ref. site gives a measure called the "James Hall of Fame Monitor" where 100 is a likely HoFer and 99 is less likely. He has Dick Allen at 99, Joe Torre at 96 (he's just a player for this); Oliva at 114; Maury Wills 104, Santo 88, Ken Boyer 86.

Those numbers are not too suprising cause the monitor is basically measuring players that do well in black ink categories and I think mostly those are offensive categories. So Dick Allen at 99 is not too surprising, as he excelled in offensive categories and you can get a lot of black ink in a 10 year career. Its interesting that Wills and Oliva score over a 100.

So really the Bill James stuff had little to do with Allen's candidacy because the really crazy over the top attack was in 1995 when Allen had only one year to go and nothing was changing on that front. Even Santo was somewhat ahead of him and Santo had to wait for the veteran's committee.

I'm sorry I didnt figure all that out, but the excerpt was wrong about the date and the quote and I just assumed that Politics of Glory had come out in 1984, when Allens candidacy was just getting started.
   53. Sunday silence Posted: October 20, 2014 at 02:46 AM (#4821007)
The quote about Allen is from p. 358 of BJHBA. I didnt manage to edit that, and I think it should be there for completeness.
   54. bjhanke Posted: October 20, 2014 at 03:31 AM (#4821010)
Just as a note, no, Bill's comment about horse's asses has no context about being good players or anything. If you want to look it up, the whole quote is in the Rogers Hornsby comment in the New Historical, at the bottom of the first column on page 486, in my copy (I don't know whether there are multiple editions with different page numbering). - Brock
   55. Sunday silence Posted: October 20, 2014 at 03:50 AM (#4821011)

Ball Four, a record of the 1969 season, notes and comments on the Allen brouhaha. As I remember, Bouton comes down ultimately on the side of excusing Allen's behavior on (get this) the grounds that there are different rules for the superior player. But he does emphatically note the fact that Allen was loathed by many many for his antics--players, management, writers, and fans.


Morty I am glad you reminded me about this part of Bouton's book. It is one of those things that make you go WTF? later when you think about it.

As I recall much of Bouton's book he's big on equal rights. He mentions racial equality and he's also big on equality among teammates because he mentions like certain stars had certain rights and it was bullsh!t. He also sometimes would mention young players and how they were treated badly.

So then all of sudden he says that we should get Allen, because if took just 20 AB for us it could mean the pennant. And who cares if he doesnt follow the rules, we need him.

It was such a massive turn around from other stuff he had said in the book. You wonder how the book was written, was it just Schecter rewriting Bouton's notes, and then occasionally Bouton would put in some of his own stuff right, like directly what he was thinking or had said?
   56. Sunday silence Posted: October 20, 2014 at 04:13 AM (#4821012)
In the Craig Wright article he goes to very impressive lengths to get to all of Dick Allen's managers to get to the bottom of the issue of whether Allen was "divisive" in the clubhouse. Alston was dead so he talked to some of the coaches in LA, including someone named Carrol Berringer who I dont remember. THe following coaches all said flat out that ALlen was not a divisive influence:

Chuck Tanner,
Gene Mauch,
Roland Hemond, (GM with white Sox);
Bob Skinner, (took over in Phil in '68 after Mauch quit. Skinner definitely had run ins with Allen and basically said he was trying to get traded. But he did come out on Allen's side on divisiveness issue.)

Pat Corrales, who was his teammate in Phil. said some nice things too but I dont think he really comes out pt. blank on the divisiveness issue. Same with Danny Ozark who was 3b coach in LA under Alston. He said Allen got along with Alston as far as he could tell; the only problem was Allen wouldnt do appearances for the LA team and Alston knew OMalley would not like that. So maybe Ozark said something equivocal on that issue.

Anyhow it really is quite an impressive array of coaches who pretty much said Allens problems did not divide the team in any way. Most of them were insistent on that.

Also if you go on the wikipedia entry for Allen, there are a number of players who stick up for him. Some of them are mentioned above, but also Stan Bahnsen, Goose Gossage, I think Schmidt was mentioned.

I knew there were a lot of negative newspaper articles written about in either late '74 or early '75 because I would read them and I didnt know much about this guy. I think alot of times, the last impression is a lasting impression and Dick Allen certainly did not go out in glory he went out mainly under controversy.
   57. Ron J2 Posted: October 20, 2014 at 09:53 AM (#4821083)
#29 It's not just Kaat. In response to James' hatchet job. Craig Wright (a good friend of James) collected a large number of testimonials in the attempts to counter James' allegations. From an old Dave Tate post on RSB:

Roland Hemond:

"He came in with a tremendous amount of respect from our players,
and that was always there. He was a very analytical player with
a great memory for past situations. A smart player, an outstanding
baserunner. I'll never forget him, and I'll always be grateful to
him."

Chuck Tanner:

"Dick was the leader of our team, the captain, the manager on the
field. He took care of the young kids, took them under his wing.
And he played every game as if it was his last day on earth."

Danny Ozark:

"...he did a lot of good things that nobody saw. He helped other
players. He liked to help the young guys. He helped Mike Schmidt
more than anyone. Mike will back that up. He got people talking
in the dugout--what a pitcher was doing, base running. He made
them think."

Gene Mauch:

"I've never been in contact with a greater talent. He was held in
absolute awe by every player in the league. He had tremendous power.
He had a great feel for the game, and he was one of the finest base-
runners [...] that I ever saw. If I was managing California today,
and Allen was in his prime, I'd take him in a minute."

"...he wasn't doing anything to hurt [his teammates] play of the game,
and he didn't involve his teammates in his problems. When he was
personally rebellious, he didn't try to bring other players into it."

"His teammates always like him. You could go forever and not meet a
more charming fellow."

Red Schoendienst:

"He was great in our clubhouse. He got along with everybody. He
wasn't a rah-rah guy, but he came to play. They respected him, and
they liked him."

Pat Corrales:

"(I) played for him and against him, and on the field he gave 100%.
He was ready for the game, and he played it to the max. It wasn't
just raw talent, either. He knew how to play [...] We knew that if
everyone played the way he did, there wouldn't be many losses. That's
what mattered to us."


The Frank Thomas fight -- and in particular the precise words Gene Mauch used to explain the release of Thomas did a lot to set the narrative for the rest of Allen's career. Basically the writers heard Mauch as saying that it was Allen's fault but Thomas had to go.

Worth noting that the only player who spoke up against releasing Thomas (who was widely disliked) was Allen. And that Pat Corrales (who was one of only two witnesses to the start -- and to my knowledge we never heard Johnny Callison's version) basically backed Allen's version of events.
   58. Morty Causa Posted: October 20, 2014 at 10:25 AM (#4821111)
   59. Jeltzandini Posted: October 20, 2014 at 10:52 AM (#4821133)
Horse's ass is a specific kind of character complaint, meaning an unpleasant guy who's just a complete pain to deal with day to day. It wouldn't be your go-to insult for a child rapist like Mel Hall.

Allen sort of shows that racism doesn't just affect nice people. It's entirely possible that without it he might have been an ordinary horse's ass with no external ramifications. And possibly not, we'll never know.

   60. RMc Has Bizarre Ideas to Fix Baseball Posted: October 20, 2014 at 05:53 PM (#4821510)
I had forgotten how promising Hall was when he was young. His comps at age 22 included Willie and the Duke (but not Mickey), Dawson, Beltran, and the ever-popular Braggo Roth. This puts Hall's projected career stats in the neighborhood of 50 WAR, 2000 hits, 300 HR and a 130 OPS+...not HOF territory, but you can see it from there (especially if ya gots a ring or two).

It didn't turn out that way.
   61. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: October 20, 2014 at 07:05 PM (#4821535)
As a teen during Allen's first tour of duty with the Phils, I always thought he got a raw deal. Frank Thomas was a horse's ass himself. And Philly was a very racist town. Lots of guys I knew used only n word to describe a black person. The end of Allen's first tour was pretty awful, much of which he brought on himself, It was a horrible time, terrible team playing in a god-forsaken stadium.
By the second tour of duty, which shocked the hell out of me when he was signed, he was a ray of sunshine and the fans treated him like a long lost son.

The quotes above about his base running really resonate; when I think of what Jackie Robinson must have been like, I think of Allen.
   62. theboyqueen Posted: October 20, 2014 at 07:43 PM (#4821545)
Allen sort of shows that racism doesn't just affect nice people. It's entirely possible that without it he might have been an ordinary horse's ass with no external ramifications. And possibly not, we'll never know.


What is the proper way of dealing with racist fans, crappy teammates, and managers that won't call you by the name you wish to be called?

Replace Dick Allen with Jesus Christ on that Phillies team, and they do not win very many baseball games. The idea that Dick Allen did ANYTHING to keep his teams from winning is not supported by any evidence at all (the same is true for Terrell Owens, by the way). Bill James fully deserves to be called to the shed on this, whether or not his writing has anything to do with Dick Allen's hall of fame candidacy.

What happens when you combine Dennis Rodman with a great coach and a great team? Championships.
   63. frannyzoo Posted: October 20, 2014 at 08:15 PM (#4821552)
Hmm...I don't find a "real" book-length biography of Dick Allen at Amazon. Hmmm...is there one I'm not seeing? I see a ghosted autobiography. Hmmm....
   64. PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina Posted: October 20, 2014 at 08:35 PM (#4821559)
Apparently even the frequency of American boys being named Richard is off by about 90% from its peak in the 1940s.


In my entire life I've only met four people named Richard who are under 45 years old today, and three of them are Juniors. One goes by Rick and the other three go by Rich. It is, for the time being, pretty nearly a dead name. It'll probably make a comeback in another generation.

It's bizarre to try to comprehend now, but if you're under 40 you'll likely live to see the day when names like Ethan and Connor and Hunter (for boys) and Madison and Katelyn and Sophia (for girls) are regarded as old people's names.
   65. frannyzoo Posted: October 20, 2014 at 09:05 PM (#4821576)
Just FYI: In a certain pretty large K-12 public school system of around 88,000 students total, I see (via certain software) right at 160 kids with the first name of Richard, as of about thirty seconds ago. As a middle school teacher, I hardly need to point out that "Dick" is very likely not the chosen moniker of any of those 160. To be honest, at this point I don't think the connection of Richard to Dick is even made by the most rapscallion of middle schooler today. Thankfully.

P.S.: More checking reveals we have more "Richard" than "Hunter" in our District. Guess we don't have that many "Paris, Texas" fans (even in Italian) down here.
   66. Merton Muffley Posted: October 20, 2014 at 09:15 PM (#4821582)
You wonder how the book was written, was it just Schecter rewriting Bouton's notes


I just happen to be rereading Ball Four. It's amazing how much of it I remember vebatim 43 years later. Anyway, my adult brain notrices a lot of verbiage was written by Schecter and not Bouton. In one remembrance, Bouton comments on the non sequitur deliver by Fred Talbot. The 30 year old Boutonw ould never have used that term.

I just happened to reread the Richie Allen part today and I interpreted it asBouton bending over backward to be racially conscious. In another scenarion, Mike Marshall just blows off an incident where he was robbed and beaten by three young black thugs, on the grounds that they were simply undwerpriveledged and just need some understanding. I'm like, "Wait, what?".
   67. Sunday silence Posted: October 21, 2014 at 12:00 AM (#4821626)
Merton: You think you could quote a line or two from that? My distinct impression is the same as Morty's: we need Allen to bat 20 times for us and who cares if he gets special treatment. That is what I recall from it.

There are probably some other incidents that may have been lost in translation from Bouton to Schlecter. Like there's one passage early in the book when Bouton talks about a pep talk that Houk gave them one time when they were in a losing skid. And Houk goes through the order of each team position by position comparing the Yankees to the Bosox and he comes to RF and says " we got Maris and they got Yastrzymski so maybe that's a push. Now catcher, we've got Yogi and they've got Jim Pagliaroni. Who the hell is Jim Pagliaroni?..."

He goes through about 8 or 10 names on the teams but the problem is there is no time in history when all those guys were on those two teams at the same time. Of course it could just be Bouton forgetting a name or two, or maybe they just winged it? Surely they could have looked it up in the MacMillan ency when they were writing the book.
   68. Gch exhales the vast drunken folly of Epicurus Posted: October 21, 2014 at 12:40 AM (#4821630)
Merton: You think you could quote a line or two from that? My distinct impression is the same as Morty's: we need Allen to bat 20 times for us and who cares if he gets special treatment. That is what I recall from it.


The Allen passage:

There was a rumor abroad in the land that the Astros were going to get Richie Allen from the Phillies and some of the Astros were against it. They said he's a bad guy to have on a ballclub. Humph. I wonder what the Astros would give to have him come to bat just fifteen times for us this season. It might mean a pennant.

If I could get Allen I'd grab him and tell everybody that he marches to a different drummer and that there are rules for him and different rules for everybody else. I mean what's the good of a .220 hitter who obeys the curfew? Richie Allen doesn't obey the rules, hits 35 home runs and knocks in over 100. I'll take him.
   69. Jacob Posted: October 21, 2014 at 01:00 AM (#4821632)
This guy is predicting Allen makes it into the HoF:

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

2021:Ichiro Suzuki in his first year of eligibility with the BBWAA; Omar Vizquel in his fourth year of eligibility; Dick Allen through the Veterans Committee
   70. Sunday silence Posted: October 21, 2014 at 01:04 AM (#4821633)
the article cited by Morty in post 58 differs a little from the Craig wright piece in a couple of respects:

In the HardballTimes article, it says that Mauch told the Phillies it's him or me, and that's what led to his firing. Wright says Mauch says it wasnt Richie that he wanted out. HT has the Phil GM Quinn saying Allen was part of it but not the only reason. So probably a complicated thing, and from what I know of Mauch he could be kind of prickly so I guess that was sort of an excuse for him.

The next year Skinner quit, HT says that he quit cause management wouldnt back him in the dispute over the exhibition game (Allen refused to take part). Wright says, Allen had permission from management to miss the game, and has Skinner saying he didnt quit cause of Dick, but "My problem was with the front office."

Sounds like Skinner is pulling his punches a little. I wonder if he called him Dick or Richie? It seems almost everyone in Phil. called him Richie, that's so odd, why would you do that? That sort of thing doesnt happen today. It's also odd about the special permission, even Charley Finley gave Allen special permission to not have to DH when he was in Oakland.

Another odd thing is how lax security was back in the 60s and 70s. Nowadays if people were throwing batteries at Allen security would be there. I wouldnt be at all surprised if they were throwing batteries at him, I know people were throwing batteries at Parker in RF in the 70s.

His retirement from the Angels is a little different. According to Wright, Helmond told him that he talked Allen out of retiring and told him to let us put you on the restricted list, so you can come back next year if you change your mind and so you wont have to sit out the first 42 days. The HT article makes it sound like someone forgot to file the paperwork and that made him ineligible until May of 75. Not sure if it was a rule thing or rather that Allen nixed a possible trade to Atlanta and asked the Phillies if they were interested and maybe that was why he didnt join them until May.

The HT article says there were racial tensions on the '76 Philies and mentions the separate party when they clinched the pennant. It mentions Schmidt, Garry Maddox and Dave Cash; of course Schmidt is white so not sure what to make of that. The Wright article has Ozark saying yeah I was okay with the party, I think it maybe was a prayer meeting.

Yeah, I'm not so sure about the prayer thing. I wonder if people back then ever got high in remote quarters in the 1970s? Jes saying.

The HT article also says ALlen was complaining about other black players not getting playing time. The Wright article seems to have missed that. Ozark also plays dumb when asked about the Tony Taylor thing (Allen insisting Taylor be on the world series team). Ozark says he doesnt remember it, then he says it may have happened, then he says do you recall the guys name? I think that story was pretty well known and Ozark just playing dumb.

It's funny how no matter how much trouble Dick causes, everyone really likes him in the end, dont they?

The impression I get from all the stories, is that there's no way Dick Allen was some sort of psychotic who hated people. Even the managers who had the most problems with him were still deflecting criticism 25 years later. There's no way he could have been like Albert Belle or Jeff Kent. He was probably a really cool guy if you got to know him, one on one, but he's not the kind of guy who's going to sign a million autographs and shows up at the Little League Banquet.

It was odd how management was even trying to help by trading him. I guess they made a promise to trade him from Phil after he bailed on a few games in '69. Or Finley giving him a "no DH" clause in his contract.

I saw him at a Crackerjack Old Timers game back in the 80s I think. And players were coming up to him and welcoming him, and I was totally surprised by that because of what I had read about him. People really warmed to him. I find it impossible to believe that he was "divisive" almost everyone he encounter speaks well of him. Its odd.

I think he's more likely flakey or a guy who's just in his own world. He always said odd things and did odd things. THe HT article has a lot of very strange quotes from him.

***

Hey thanks for the Bouton quote.
   71. Jacob Posted: October 21, 2014 at 01:20 AM (#4821635)
   72. Ron J2 Posted: October 21, 2014 at 09:54 AM (#4821691)
#70 There are some people like that. There's no doubting that the young Babe Ruth was a difficult person, but he was genuinely popular with pretty much all of his teammates (fight with Wally Pipp notwithstanding) and opposition players (run in with Ty Cobb doesn't really tell us anything. The only really unusual thing about that situation is that the teammates prevented them from fighting, even while they did nothing about an ongoing fight between Bob Meusel and Bert Cole. Back then, if two players wanted to fight it was unusual for others to get involved)
   73. PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina Posted: October 21, 2014 at 10:47 AM (#4821725)
Just FYI: In a certain pretty large K-12 public school system of around 88,000 students total, I see (via certain software) right at 160 kids with the first name of Richard, as of about thirty seconds ago.


That's interesting. I pondered how many people I've met in my life that I can still remember their names today... my best estimate would be around 5,000 (of whom, as I said above, 4 are named Richard). If that number's anywhere near accurate then your school system's Richard Ratio is about twice that of those I remember... probably covered by me forgetting a Richard or two along the way, and within statistical noise anyway. 1 in 500 sounds high to me, and I'm sure region matters.
   74. Booey Posted: October 21, 2014 at 10:59 AM (#4821735)
I knew quite a few Richards growing up that were around my age (35 now). Most of them went by Rich when they reached their teen/adult years. Most the older Richards I've known went by Rick. I've never met anybody (that I can remember) that went by Dick.

It does seem to be a name that dropped off in popularity pretty much overnight, though. Like I said, I met several that would be in their mid 30's now, but I only know of one that's under 30.
   75. Jesse Barfield's Right Arm Posted: October 21, 2014 at 12:23 PM (#4821794)
My point about Allen's treatment in Philadelphia was that it was worse than the other black & latino players because he didn't "know his place". I've heard this as recently for players like Cunningham & McNabb in football - whose major crime was being a black QB

WTF is this "I've heard" bull ####? Cunningham's jersey is all over the place at the Link - he's like a God these days in Philly, and was among the most beloved players of the Buddy Ryan Era. McNabb has spent his entire media career ripping the Eagles. Why would you pick a city that has had a black QB for most of the past 30 years and claim that that's the tough place to play? Nick Foles had the best QB rating in football in 2013, and half the city is yearning for a guy named Mark Sanchez. What a ####### joke.
   76. BDC Posted: October 21, 2014 at 12:58 PM (#4821820)
Philadelphia is a complicated place. There's certainly a history of racism there, and it certainly extends into sports. But think of Wilt Chamberlain, not the world's most self-effacing guy, and an icon in Philly. That was helped by Chamberlain being a local hero. Earl Monroe and Sonny Hill are among other local legends of Allen's generation or thereabouts. Julius Erving, not from Philly originally, became probably the most respected person in Philadelphia sports history. Hal Greer was hugely respected there: these are all roughly contemporaries of Allen, more or less.

Basketball has a different culture, true, but it includes a lot of white fans, and I don't think that admiration for those men breaks along racial lines. Big Five basketball is a really big deal in Philly, all the more so decades ago, and the Big Five integrated over the course of the 1950s (a factor that made a lot of those teams national powers). Allen wasn't coming into a situation that was necessarily hostile to black athletes. Of course the Phillies had been slow to integrate, and there were considerable tensions in their neighborhood and, I'd say, in the demographics of their fans, who didn't entirely overlap with those of college basketball. But it was not like some sort of hellhole for African-American athletes.
   77. Merton Muffley Posted: October 21, 2014 at 01:22 PM (#4821829)
Julius Erving, not from Philly originally, became probably the most respected person in Philadelphia sports history.


And yet, they found a way to boo even him.
   78. BDC Posted: October 21, 2014 at 01:30 PM (#4821839)
Yeah, everything's relative. At least Dr J was more popular than Santa Claus.
   79. Mark Armour Posted: October 21, 2014 at 01:34 PM (#4821844)
I read Allen's autobiography several years ago and it was quite good. He comes across as a good guy, and a smart guy, and reasonably self-critical. The funny thing is that if you read this book and knew nothing about Allen from any other source I think many people would conclude that Allen would be a pain in the ass to have on your team. He comes across (in his own words) as someone who often did not really feel much like showing up at the ballpark, and by his last couple of years in Philly he really didn't give a ####. He was so good that he was still a net positive, but I think most manager of the era would not want him on the team. I know what Mauch and Skinner said 30 years later, but I still wonder how they felt in the late 1960s.


   80. theboyqueen Posted: October 21, 2014 at 01:43 PM (#4821852)
Allen wasn't coming into a situation that was necessarily hostile to black athletes. Of course the Phillies had been slow to integrate,


How is the Phillies' pathetic integration history not itself evidence of hostility? What is the alternate explanation?

But it was not like some sort of hellhole for African-American athletes.


And yet it may have been a hellhole for Dick Allen specifically, which is the whole point. What reason, other than bullying, is there to not call a man by his name? And yet the dude kept hitting like a motherfu*ker.

Interesting about Dick Allen is that is was also a native Pennsylvanian, a horse jockey(!), and a doo-wop singer. He could easily have been a bridge between several aspects of Pennsylvania culture, crossing racial lines (sort of like Daryl Hall or something). Anyway, the favorable opinion of his contemporaries (and his statistical record) is far more compelling than the unsourced, uninformed libel of some night-watchman in Kansas.

Gary Sheffield seems like an appropriate comparison.
   81. SOLockwood Posted: October 21, 2014 at 01:48 PM (#4821855)
67: Bouton's anecdote has Houk in 1963 going over the starting lineups by batting order position. He compares Mike Andrews to Bobby Richardson, Rico Petrocelli to Tom Tresh, Carl Yastrzemski to Roger Maris and then gets to the clean-up hitter -- Jim Pagliaroni and Mickey Mantle. Pagliaroni went from Boston to Pittsburgh in the 62-63 off-season. Andrews didn't even reach the majors until 1966.
   82. Ron J2 Posted: October 21, 2014 at 01:49 PM (#4821857)
#79 I don't think there's any doubt that at various points in 1969 Bob Skinner would have done anything to have had Allen out of his life. I had just started to follow baseball seriously in 1969 and I remember that Skinner always seemed to be picking his words with extreme care, but that there was what seemed to me unvoiced anger/despair about the situation. He'd been around the game long enough to know that going on the record with his true feeling could only hurt, but it seemed to me that you'd get strong hints.

Disclaimer though. I was basically on Allen's side in all of the controversies and may have been reading in things that weren't there. I do think Skinner was in over his head and Allen sure didn't make things easier.

Mauch is more complicated because in general terms he was optimistic that the problems with Allen could be managed around and Allen was just so damned good. I don't doubt there were specific "him or me" moments, but I'm pretty sure they were a heat of the moment thing.
   83. Morty Causa Posted: October 21, 2014 at 01:50 PM (#4821858)
The point that Bill James made, and one he insisted should be considered narrowly, is whether Allen acted in ways that had a negative effect on winning--and how much of one did it have. He thought it did, and so did many fans and writers at the time. James, however, also believes that as time passes, all that stuff comes to mean less and the numbers come to mean more.
   84. Rally Posted: October 21, 2014 at 01:54 PM (#4821862)
And yet, they found a way to boo even him.


I lived in the Philly area around the end of Erving and Schmidt's careers. Schmidt was booed much more than Erving, if Erving was ever booed at all. Part of that is the nature of the two sports.

If Schmidt has a really bad day it might look like 3 strikeouts, a popup, and a fielding error. Dumb fan in the seats thinks "Why are we paying this bum 2 million dollars? I could do that!" and he boos. Same fan goes to the Spectrum and watches a bad game from Dr. J. A bad game for him there might be 6 for 19 shooting while the team loses by 20. But one of those baskets is a breakaway that Dr. J finishes with a jaw-dropping dunk. No Mr. Dumbfan, even on the best day of your life you can't do what Erving does on his worst day. And Mr. Dumbfan knows it, and keeps his yap shut.
   85. Ron J2 Posted: October 21, 2014 at 01:55 PM (#4821863)
What reason, other than bullying, is there to not call a man by his name?


Habits? At this period in time pretty much all Roberts (and variations of the name) became Bobby.

Bobby Clemente fought the same battle. Bobby Clarke did the same -- albeit much more quietly. Bobby Baun didn't like to be called Bobby either.
   86. Rally Posted: October 21, 2014 at 01:59 PM (#4821869)
Gary Sheffield seems like an appropriate comparison.


He's been the appropriate comp since his MLB debut. I think Bill James recognized this from the beginning. Sheffield is Allen with longevity. They even followed roughly the same position path.
   87. PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina Posted: October 21, 2014 at 02:03 PM (#4821872)
Bobby Clemente fought the same battle. Bobby Clarke did the same -- albeit much more quietly. Bobby Baun didn't like to be called Bobby either.


I know a guy whose name is Bobby--not Robert, but Bobby, on his birth certificate. All his life people have been writing 'Robert' on things assuming that's his actual official name.
   88. Rally Posted: October 21, 2014 at 02:06 PM (#4821876)
Sheffield from ages 22-35:

1792 G, 396 HR, 152 OPS+, 302/410/549, 50 WAR

Allen's career:

1749 G, 351 HR, 156 OPS+, 292/378/534, 59 WAR

Sheffield's raw numbers look better because of the environment he played in, Allen was better overall, but they are pretty close.
   89. theboyqueen Posted: October 21, 2014 at 02:12 PM (#4821882)
The point that Bill James made, and one he insisted should be considered narrowly, is whether Allen acted in ways that had a negative effect on winning--and how much of one did it have. He thought it did, and so did many fans and writers at the time. James, however, also believes that as time passes, all that stuff comes to mean less and the numbers come to mean more.


Bill James is awesome, and my life would be poorer if not for his work, but when Bill James starts talking or writing about his "beliefs" that's when I go running for the door. The guy is has quite a bit of wackjob about him.
   90. theboyqueen Posted: October 21, 2014 at 02:16 PM (#4821885)
Habits? At this period in time pretty much all Roberts (and variations of the name) became Bobby.

Bobby Clemente fought the same battle. Bobby Clarke did the same -- albeit much more quietly. Bobby Baun didn't like to be called Bobby either.


I'm not sure there was ever a point in history where "Richie" was the default nickname for Richard. In that era Dick was probably much more common. Was Richard Nixon ever referred to as "Richie"?
   91. Ron J2 Posted: October 21, 2014 at 02:36 PM (#4821894)
#90 Bad editing on my part. I had originally wrote "pretty much all Roberts in sports became Bobby. When I edited it to include Clemente I erased the "in sports".

See also Bobby Hull, Bobby Orr (both of whom are still referred to as Bobby) and ... I can't think of any Roberts in sports in the 60s that didn't become Bobby. Best I can tell Clemente and Allen ended the automatic conversion to Bobby. I don't recall exactly when Bobby Clarke became Bob, but I'm pretty sure it was not until his career ended and he went into management. As I recall Bob Baun won his point at about the same time as Clemente did, but a player had to make an objection.
   92. Mark Armour Posted: October 21, 2014 at 02:58 PM (#4821916)
Lefty Phillips was once asked to compare Dick Allen and Alex Johnson. “Once you get Richie Allen on the field, your problems are over. When Johnson gets to the field, your problems are just beginning.”

I have no doubt that Allen faced hardships that were particularly difficult in the time and place he was playing. I also have no doubt that Allen had a makeup that made dealing with these hardships more difficult than other people who had a similar road.
   93. Sunday silence Posted: October 21, 2014 at 02:59 PM (#4821919)
The City That Bombed Itself, says: "Hello."
   94. BDC Posted: October 21, 2014 at 03:36 PM (#4821947)
unsourced, uninformed libel of some night-watchman in Kansas

To reclarify, I file no brief in support of Bill James here. I don't think you can find much Negative Allen Effect in the record, aside from the times when he couldn't or didn't stay in the lineup and his teams had to do without him – which you could say of a lot of players.

I'm just saying I don't see him as wholly a victim or Philadelphia as wholly a collective villain.
   95. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 21, 2014 at 03:41 PM (#4821953)
What reason, other than bullying, is there to not call a man by his name?

Lots of people get called by versions of their names they don't like, at some point in their lives. Ofteb by our friends. Most all of us don't become ######## over it.
   96. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: October 21, 2014 at 03:47 PM (#4821957)
The idea that Bill James' statements in 1984 impacted mid-80s HOF voting is laughable. He was a weirdo who managed to get a couple of books published.

   97. Accent Shallow is probably a hologram Posted: October 21, 2014 at 03:51 PM (#4821960)
I know a guy whose name is Bobby--not Robert, but Bobby, on his birth certificate. All his life people have been writing 'Robert' on things assuming that's his actual official name.

Actually, it's just Bob.
   98. Rally Posted: October 21, 2014 at 04:09 PM (#4821976)
The idea that Bill James' statements in 1984 impacted mid-80s HOF voting is laughable. He was a weirdo who managed to get a couple of books published.


I don't think anyone is saying that. I doubt even the amphibious dude mentioned in the article thinks it made a difference to the BBWAA vote. If James' writing had any effect, it would be slowing down Allen's path to the veteran's committee.

I don't know what would have happened had James ignored the subject, maybe giving Allen the Bagwell assessment. James wrote strongly in support of George Davis as a great player. This was a player whose record once interpreted is tremendous (85 WAR) but wasn't on the radar of many until James wrote about him at length in one of his books. Davis was elected by the vets 89 years after his death. I think James had a bit to do with that.

I don't know if the veterans would have voted for Allen if James had been neutral or favorable to his cause. I kind of doubt it. But I can't say for sure that they wouldn't have.

   99. Mark Armour Posted: October 21, 2014 at 04:40 PM (#4822000)
I suspect that James' comments have had an effect in keeping a large pro-Allen campaign from growing in the analytical community. It isn't that the actual voters care what James thinks, but rather that Allen's best path to Cooperstown (like Santo and Blyleven, and eventually Grich, Raines, Trammell) is a constant drumbeat of support from loud persistent people. Allen does not have this. James' comments are most known by precisely the people who might most likely make up a pro-Allen campaign.

Santo had basically zero support when he was first considered, and his support grew as the analytical community got louder and began to have more influence over voters. Eventually, he became a "what the hell were we thinking?" candidate. Allen has had none of that, and I suspect that 90% of the difference is the perception, right or wrong, that Allen was a pain in the ass who hurt his teams.
   100. zenbitz Posted: October 21, 2014 at 05:26 PM (#4822033)
I am too young to remember Allen - but it's sort of a thing for sportswriters to demonize players they don't like, and I don't think it started in the 90s.

So my assumption is that it's all BS, and if I had a HOF vote I would deliberately ignore all reports of a player's "attitude" or "spirit" or whatever.
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