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02/17/07 10:00 AM ET
Controversial Allen has Hall credentials
Former Phils, White Sox slugger among 27 on Veterans ballot
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com
He began his career as Richie Allen and charged to a Rookie of the Year Award. By the time he finished some 15 seasons later, the more mature Dick Allen had collected an American League Most Valuable Player Award and played on seven All-Star teams. He slugged home runs before it was too common and was a recognizable star during a bleak period in Phillies history. With some support, Allen will be enshrined in Cooperstown as a candidate on the Veterans Committee ballot for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Allen garned 15 percent of votes in the 2005 Veterans election, down one percent from his 2003 total. A candidate must get 75 percent to gain election. In 14 years on the Baseball Writers' ballot (he wasn't on the ballot in 1984), his highest vote total percentage was 19 percent in 1996, his penultimate year of eligibility. Results of the 2007 Veterans Committee election will be announced Feb. 27, and the induction ceremony will be July 29 in Cooperstown, N.Y. Though Allen won his MVP Award with the White Sox in 1972 -- his first season in the American League -- he's remembered mostly as a Phillie. Some consider him to be one of the best players not in the Hall of Fame. Talented, controversial and at times abusive, Allen played 15 years in the Major leagues. After a cup of coffee as a September 1963 callup, Allen pounded his way to a 200-hit campaign in 1964 and carried the Phillies with Johnny Callison, but the team surrendered a six-game lead with a week remaining in the regular season. Still, Allen's 201 hits, 29 homers, 91 RBIs and a .318 average -- more than making up for his 41 errors at third base -- earned him NL Rookie of the Year honors.
The 2007 Veterans Committee ballot features 27 candidates on the player ballot, 15 on the composite ballot.
August Busch Jr.
His monster homers were often offset by his off-the-field problems.A deep cut on his right hand, which Allen said happened pushing a stalled car, impaired his throwing ability and forced a move to first base in 1967. Continued off-the-field problems and fines led to a trade to St. Louis after the 1969 season. He then played for three teams in three seasons, cementing his reputation as a difficult personality. He found peace in 1972 with the Chicago White Sox, and soared his way to the AL MVP Award, leading the league in homers (37), RBIs (113), walks (99), and slugging percentage (.603). He was having a similar season in 1974 when he abruptly retired with a month remaining in the season. Dealt to Atlanta in December 1974, he was shipped to Philadelphia in May 1975 after refusing to report to the Braves. Following two average years in Philadelphia and one in Oakland, he retired for good. His personality was unique, and fans remember him for writing in the dirt around first base. He also had notable quotes, such as this one about AstroTurf: "If a horse won't eat it, I don't want to play on it." And on hitting the knuckleball: "I never worry about it. I just take my three swings and go sit on the bench. I'm afraid if I even think about hitting it, I'll mess up my swing for life." His controversial attitude, real or imagined, may have kept him from Cooperstown, despite worthy credentials. His 351 career homers rank 69th all-time. He led the AL in homers and finished second in the NL in two other seasons.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.