Growing up, Richard Allen Jr. wanted to be a baseball star like his dad. Dick Allen was an iconic Phillies slugger known for swinging the heaviest bat in the majors and sending home runs over the roof of Connie Mack Stadium.
But the father had other plans.
Dick Allen wanted his son to focus on an education and business acumen. Instead of baseball, Allen guided his son to manage his race horses. When they visited the Phillies at spring training, Allen told his son that he had to look professional. And that meant no shorts in the Florida heat.
“I have a picture of me as a little kid at Jack Russell Stadium wearing pants, coat, and shoes,” Allen Jr. said. “He always wanted me to be on that side. I think he felt like what happened to him was going to happen to me.”
Allen faced racism and was met with death threats as a Black minor leaguer in segregated Arkansas, was booed by the home fans in Philly, labeled a clubhouse disruption by the press, and played the field at times while wearing a batting helmet to protect himself from objects thrown from the stands.
Allen’s career was prolific, but it was also painful. And on Sunday, his son - the one Allen tried to steer away from the sport - felt the pain baseball can bring when Allen was denied entry yet again to the Hall of Fame.
Allen, who died last December, needed 12 votes from the Hall’s Golden Days Era committee to gain induction. He received 11, falling a vote shy for the second-straight time. Allen Jr. traveled to Orlando, Fla. to be there when his father - 44 years after playing his last game - finally became a Hall of Famer.
Instead, it was just another painful chapter in Dick Allen’s story.
“He openly said ‘They’re going to do you worse because you’re my son.’ He felt like the world would treat me unfairly,” Allen Jr. said Monday night. “Honestly, I was telling people today that he’s laughing about it. ‘Now everyone can go about their business.’ I really do feel like he’s laughing about it. He didn’t care. The sad part about it is that after 2014, I said ‘They’re going to do voting again.’ He said ‘Psh. I’ll be dead by then.’”
The Hall announced the results in 2014 at a news conference in San Diego ahead of baseball’s Winter Meetings. But the meetings were cancelled this year by Major League Baseball’s work stoppage so the committee’s votes were revealed on a TV special.
Allen Jr. arrived to Orlando cautiously optimistic since he had his hopes dashed the last time the committee met. But when MLB Network aired an old Allen interview before the announcement, he figured they were teeing up his dad’s induction. He was wrong.
The voters, Allen Jr. was told, had finished voting by noon and immediately left the hotel for home. The results were announced at 6 p.m. and there was no news conference this year to explain to Allen Jr. why was his father was left out.
“You know what? There could have been some foul play in there. Maybe they collected all their votes and someone gives the nod and…,” Allen Jr. said. “There’s room for error in there because they put their votes in and leave.”
Allen won the Rookie of the Year in 1964, the American League MVP in 1972, has the 18th-best WRC+ in history, and has accumulated more Wins Above Replacement than nearly half the players already in the Hall of Fame. His 165 OPS+ between 1964 and 1973 is the highest over that 10-year span. His career slugging percentage (.534) is higher than all Hall of Fame third baseman and his .912 career OPS is better than Hall of Famers like Mike Schmidt, Ken Griffey Jr., Willie McCovey, and Willie Stargell.
The voters were provided a 10-page document filled of Allen’s stats, but his son - and many of Allen’s supporters - think there’s more at play when it came to why he failed to garner enough votes.
“I still think there’s some bad press and people just don’t want to believe it,” Allen Jr. said. “People will say ‘He didn’t cut his hand on a headlight. It was a bar fight.’ But I’m saying other things because I remember seeing the blood. But there’s people that refuse to believe.”
Allen was stung enough by the Hall’s process that his son said he found peace with not having a bronze plaque in Cooperstown, N.Y. Allen did not define himself by his Hall of Fame status and grew to enjoy the privacy that came with not being a Hall of Famer.
Allen Jr., stinging from the pain that his father tried to shield him from, is starting to feel the same way.
“Five years, if he goes up again, I don’t even know if I’ll want to go,” Allen Jr. said. “Are they going to do it for the third time?”