Dick Allen will take another swing at the Baseball Hall of Fame in December as the candidacy of the former Phillies slugger will be considered again.
Allen, who died in December 2020, was named Friday to the ballot for the Golden Days Era committee, which will meet Dec. 5 in Orlando. Allen needs to receive 12 of the committee’s 16 votes to enter the Hall of Fame. He fell one vote shy in 2014, when the committee last met.
Allen is joined on the ballot by Ken Boyer, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Roger Maris, Minnie Minoso, Danny Murtaugh, Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce, and Maury Wills. Only Kaat, Oliva, and Wills are still alive.
The Phillies retired Allen’s No. 15 in September 2020, which seemed to be done as a way to build momentum for his Hall of Fame chances before the committee, which was to meet that year in December. But the meeting was postponed a year because the pandemic kept the members from gathering in person, and Allen died the day the results were scheduled to be announced.
“If you go back in time and analyze Dick’s career and look at his career by applying modern-day analytics, his numbers are far and above a lot of the guys who are in the Hall of Fame,” Mike Schmidt said. “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 did not come close to reaching Cooperstown, N.Y., when his candidacy was decided by baseball writers. He received just 3.7% of the vote in his first year of eligibility, in 1983. Allen was on the writers’ ballot for 14 years, and his totals peaked at just 16.7%. A player needs 75% to enter the Hall of Fame.
Allen said after the Phillies retired his No. 15 that he already considered himself a Hall of Famer because he was inducted into the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum’s “Hall of Game” in 2018.
“That’s the real hall for me,” Allen said. “They are a very elite group. 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.”
During his career, Allen had a poor reputation with several writers and was labeled dysfunctional because of instances like the injury he suffered when pushing his car, the doubleheader he spent at a horse track, and the time he went AWOL at the end of the season because the Phillies were leaving Tony Taylor off the playoffs roster.
But he was also one of the game’s most prolific hitters. Allen was the National League’s Rookie of the Year in 1964 with the Phillies and the American League’s MVP in 1972 with the Chicago White Sox. He was a seven-time All-Star and finished his career in 1977 with a .292 batting average and 351 home runs. He also played for the St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Oakland Athletics.
Allen was baseball’s best hitter over the first decade of his career. His 165 OPS+ from 1964 to 1973 led the majors, better than such all-time greats as Hank Aaron, Harmon Killebrew, and Willie McCovey.
“After a game, we would sit around and just talk baseball,” said Larry Bowa, who played with Allen when he returned to the Phils in 1975. “Me, Cash, Maddox, Schmitty, Booney, Bull. We would just sit down, maybe have a beer or two. Win, lose, or draw it was always about baseball. The more you talked to him, the smarter he was.
“He would be like, ‘I would’ve done this.’ And you would say, ‘Wow.’ He was nine steps ahead of everybody. He reminded me a lot, baseball-wise as far as his mindset, of Pete Rose. Their baseball IQ not just hitting the baseball or catching it but going in between the lines and the strategy. An unbelievable mind.”
From 1880 to 1990, 24 players registered a slugging percentage (total bases per at-bat) of .510 or better over at least 6,300 plate appearances. Allen is the only one not in the Hall of Fame.
“It’s just a shame that he isn’t around to take in all the adulation,” Bowa said. “He’s up there with Mays and Aaron and Robinson and all those great players. McCovey. 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.”