Allen remembered for bringing the pain
Slugger on Veterans' ballot for Hall after homer-filled career
Dick Allen may have played in a pitcher-friendly era during the 1960s and early 1970s, but he was nevertheless adept at making those pitchers feel miserable when he came to the plate.
Fitting the description of a slugger with his massive arm strength and 44-ounce bat, Allen was one of the game's most feared hitters during a 15-year Major League career that began with a Rookie of the Year Award in 1964 and included an American League Most Valuable Player Award in 1972. For all that he accomplished, Allen is now under consideration for a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Allen is on the post-1943 Veterans Committee ballot for the Class of 2009. Any player receiving at least 75 percent of the vote from the Veterans Committee, which consists of the 64 living Hall of Famers, will be enshrined. The other members of the post-1943 Veterans Committee final ballot are Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Tony Oliva, Al Oliver, Vada Pinson, Ron Santo, Luis Tiant, Joe Torre and Maury Wills.
Results from the Veterans Committee vote will be revealed at 1 p.m. ET on MLB.com on Monday from baseball's Winter Meetings in Las Vegas.
Allen, 66, broke in with the Phillies and had two stints with them. He also played for the Cardinals, Dodgers, White Sox and Athletics. A right-handed hitter, Allen came up as a third baseman and also played first base. He finished his career with a .292 batting average, 351 homers and 1,119 RBIs. A seven-time All-Star, Allen twice led the American League in homers and was known for his mammoth drives.
One memorable drive by Allen that cleared the roof in left-center at Philadelphia's Connie Mack Stadium caused fellow slugger Willie Stargell to marvel at the power Allen could generate.
Stargell quipped that when Allen hit a homer, there's no souvenir.
Allen burst into prominence after having had a September callup with the Phils to acclimate himself to the Majors in '63. In 1964, Allen led the National League in runs (125), triples (13), extra-base hits (80) and total bases (352). He finished in the top five in batting average (.318), slugging percentage (.557), hits (201) and doubles (38).
Allen moved on to the Cardinals in 1970 and entertained fans with his extraordinary power long before Mark McGwire came to St. Louis with his home run hoopla.
After a brief stop in Los Angeles, Allen found contentment and great success playing for the White Sox and manager Chuck Tanner in '72. Tanner decided to play Allen exclusively at first base, which allowed Allen to relax and concentrate on hitting. Allen responded with a league-leading 37 homers in his MVP season. He also led the league in RBIs (113), walks (99) and slugging percentage (.603).
Allen's MVP season included a "first" that qualifies as an excellent trivia subject.
On July 31, 1972, Allen became the first player in baseball's modern era to hit two inside-the-park homers in one game in an 8-1 victory over Minnesota. Both homers came off Bert Blyleven at Minnesota's Metropolitan Stadium.
Allen had a unique personality and was willing to give his special slant on a variety of subjects.
At a time when artificial turf was in vogue around the Major Leagues, Allen made it clear he preferred to play on grass.
"If a horse won't eat it, I don't want to play on it," Allen said.
Whether on grass or turf, Allen could always hit. Now, he's got a chance to use that 44-ounce bat as a springboard to the Hall of Fame.
Robert Falkoff is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.