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Negro Leagues event will examine Phillies legend Dick Allen’s career among other topics

A three-day event in Cape May will honor the Negro Leagues history of New Jersey and Philadelphia and consider Allen's case for enshrinement.

Tony Taylor (left) and Dick Allen (right) played seven seasons together for the Phillies.
Tony Taylor (left) and Dick Allen (right) played seven seasons together for the Phillies.Read moreCourtesy Sydnei SmithJordan

In a sport where the best hitters fail more than 60% of the time, it makes sense that the chances of entering the National Baseball Hall of Fame are comparable to hitting a Sandy Koufax curveball. The late Phillies slugger Richard “Dick” Allen is one of the best examples.

Seven All-Star appearances and honors such as National League Rookie of the Year in 1964, and American League MVP in 1972 only netted Allen as much as 18.9% of the required 75% of the vote to enter Cooperstown.

He had power — he was the fourth player ever to hit a home run over the 445-foot center field wall at Comiskey Park in Chicago. He also hit for average, batting over .300 seven times.

But Allen did not have a great relationship with the Philadelphia media or fans due to accumulated fines, clubhouse fights and other occurrences that made him public enemy No. 1. Things got so bad that Allen would wear a baseball helmet on the field to protect himself from assorted projectiles being thrown at him.

“The Phillies often came down on the white side of the argument rather than his side of the issue, and the end result was fans ultimately being caught up in the racial tensions and were very much divided between pro-Dick Allen and anti-Dick Allen,” baseball historian Jerry Casway said.

Allen’s career will be one of the topics discussed at a Negro Leagues baseball event in Cape May from Tuesday to Thursday. The events will be held at the Cape May Convention Hall with historians, authors and family members of players joining the list of speakers. Tickets are available at

Artist Sydnei SmithJordan’s work will be featured. She has painted portraits of many Negro League stars, and celebrities such as Whoopi Goldberg and Denzel Washington have collected them. SmithJordan was tasked with capturing Allen’s time in Philadelphia and his interesting case for the Hall of Fame.

“I do a lot of research,” SmithJordan said. “Every piece that I do of a living person, those pieces have been researched because that’s how I’m able to capture the spirit of that person.”

The event will capture some of the best Negro Leagues players and teams from New Jersey and Philadelphia. Casway will bring to light the forgotten stories of the Philadelphia Pythians, a Black team that formed in 1865 and played up until 1871 before the death of one of their leaders resulted in the team disbanding. The Pythians were a group of businessmen who played ball and chased equal rights.

“Almost 100 years before people like Rosa Parks,” Casway said, “many of the ballplayers on the Pythians team were involved in the attempt to promote the rights and liberties of the colored community while playing baseball.”

» READ MORE: The 1905 Philadelphia Giants are mostly forgotten, but they were one of baseball’s great teams

Other speakers will include Gaylon White, who will discuss his book about Negro Leagues legend Artie Wilson, the last player to hit over .400 in a season (.437 in 1948 for the Birmingham Black Barons); and historian Mike Everett, who will talk about the career of Hall of Famer John Henry “Pop” Lloyd.