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Phillies legend Dick Allen misses election to Baseball Hall of Fame by one vote

All that was needed was 12 votes from a 16-member panel that included former teammates Mike Schmidt and Ferguson Jenkins. Allen received 11.

Former Phillies and White Sox great Dick Allen in 2006.
Former Phillies and White Sox great Dick Allen in 2006.Read moreCharles Fox / Staff photographer

Dick Allen’s Hall of Fame case met the same brutal fate it did seven years ago as he fell one vote shy Sunday of finally being inducted in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Allen, who died last December at 78, was denied entry by the Hall’s Golden Days Era committee. He needed 12 votes from a 16-member panel that included former teammates Mike Schmidt and Ferguson Jenkins. He received 11, the same amount he received in 2014 when the group last met. Allen’s next chance will be in 2026.

The committee elected pitcher Jim Kaat, who played four of his 25 big-league seasons with the Phillies, Gil Hodges, Minnie Miñoso, and Tony Oliva. Negro leagues start Bud Fowler and Buck O’Neil were inducted by the Early Baseball Era committee.

Allen played for five teams — the Phillies, Cardinals, Dodgers, White Sox, and A’s — during a 15-year career. He hit 351 homers while swinging a 42-ounce bat and his 165 OPS+ between 1964 and 1973 was the highest in the majors over that 10-year span. He won the Rookie of the Year in 1964 with the Phillies, captured the American League MVP in 1972 with the White Sox, and made seven All Star teams.

His 155 WRC+, meaning his offensive production was 55% better than league average, ranks 18th all-time and is just below that of Mel Ott and just above Willie Mays.

“If you go back in time and analyze Dick’s career and look at his career by applying the modern-day analytics, his numbers are far and above a lot of the guys who are in the Hall of Fame,” Schmidt said last year. “That’s always one way to look at it: ‘Well, if he’s in the Hall of Fame, then he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.’ You’ll go nuts looking at things that way. You’ll also ruffle feathers if you do. But for me, it’s the simplest way to look at it.”

Allen’s wait for the Hall of Fame started in 1983, when he garnered just 3.7% of the votes from the baseball writers in his first year of eligibility. He spent 14 years on the ballot but never came close to the 75% needed for enshrinement. The Hall’s veterans committees also left him off, as did earlier iterations of the Golden Days committees.

“He’s up there with Mays and Aaron and Robinson and all those great players. McCovey,” Larry Bowa said last year. “Because of his relationship with some writers, I just think it’s a shame that they couldn’t see beyond that and look what he did on the baseball field. It’s sad. It really is sad.”

His son, Richard Jr., said Allen had found peace with not having a bronze plaque in Cooperstown. He was honored in 2018 by the Negro League Hall of Fame in Kansas City, Mo. and said he considered that the real Hall of Fame.

“That’s the real hall for me,” Allen said. “They are a very elite group,” Allen said last year after the Phillies retired his No. 15. “They’re part of the legends. And to me, the way that it’s going, it could be a little political the way [the Baseball Hall of Fame] does things, but however, it’s beyond me. I pay no attention to it.”

His offensive production with the Phillies was prolific, but his time in Philadelphia was often tumultuous. He clashed with sportswriters, came to blows with a teammate, injured his hand while pushing his car, moved his locker stall to the storage room, was fined by the National League for writing cryptic messages in the infield dirt, and played the field at times while wearing a batting helmet to protect himself from objects thrown from the booing fans.

Allen was the first Black star for the Phillies, the last National League franchise to integrate. His soaring home runs were popular, but he quickly became polarizing in a city bubbling with racial tension. Allen’s rookie season coincided with riots in North Philadelphia over police brutality.

“This was a time before our collective consciousness was raised, before we really understood the historical context and acknowledged the forces of racism at work,” said Hollywood producer Mike Tollin, who grew up in Havertown and is working on a documentary about Allen. “So, the greatest Phillies player in a generation was booed unmercifully by his own fans.”

In 1966, Allen’s OPS (1.027) led the NL and his OPS+ (181) is second-highest since 1900 in franchise history. He was 24 and one of baseball’s premier players, the type of hitter a franchise could build around. Three years later, he was gone.

Allen wrote “Oct. 2″ in the dirt near first base in August 1969 in anticipation of the season’s final day and an eventual trade out of Philadelphia.

“I didn’t play with Dick during the time that all of the racism was part of his baseball experience in Philadelphia. I’ve read about it, probably as you have, and I would think that playing in those conditions was extremely difficult,” Schmidt said last year. “I would think dealing with it and playing as well as Dick did, was amazing. I know that I couldn’t have. Heck, I had enough trouble playing in Philadelphia with boos every now and then. But with a battery flying out of the stands, I might have had to walk off the field. It had to be very, very hard.

“A tough time to play, especially in our city. He did it. Probably, if it had been a comfortable environment for him to play, he’d have a plaque hanging in Cooperstown a long, long time ago because he would’ve extended his success. He would have probably doubled his statistics if he played another six or seven years in Philadelphia — or somewhere in baseball — comfortably, and being treated as any other player was treated, he would have amassed very, very impressive numbers, not that his aren’t impressive now.”

Allen played the next five seasons in St. Louis, Los Angeles, and Chicago before leaving the White Sox in the final month of the 1974 season and announcing plans to retire to his farm in Perkasie and train race horses. He changed his mind two months later and the White Sox traded him to Atlanta, a city Allen refused to play in.

Phillies general manager Paul Owens and owner Ruly Carpenter dispatched Richie Ashburn, Mike Schmidt, and Dave Cash to Allen’s farm to persuade Allen to join the Phillies. But the trip had to be a secret as Allen was under contract with Atlanta. They played basketball, ate ribs, talked baseball, and convinced Allen to return to Philadelphia as a veteran player for a team on the upswing.

» READ MORE: Dick Allen’s family hoping his Hall of Fame fortune will change on Sunday

Three months later, Allen returned to the Phillies and received three standing ovations in his first game at Veterans Stadium. Schmidt called that night “a peace offering” and Bowa, the team’s shortstop, said he had it was a moment “that sends goose bumps up and down your spine.” After an ugly exit, Allen was home again.

“I think it was the first time,” Allen said after the game of receiving a standing ovation in Philadelphia. “Somebody said I should check the city limits to make sure I’m still in Philadelphia. You don’t know what it means to me. It’s a different atmosphere now altogether.”