CHICAGO (CBS Sports) — Dick Allen, one of the most fearsome and accomplished hitters of his era, and winner of the American League MVP when he played with the Chicago White Sox, died Monday at the age of 78.
Allen’s family announced his death through his Twitter account.
With sadness in our hearts, we need to share that Dick passed away this afternoon at his home in Wampum pic.twitter.com/BEIrcQlfRG
— Dick Allen (@DickAllen_15) December 7, 2020
According to CBS Sports, Allen spent parts of 15 seasons in the majors from 1963 through 1977. Over that span, he hit 351 home runs, authored a WAR of 58.8, and maintained an OPS+ of 156, which is good for 19th place on the all-time list.
Allen, who spent nine of his 15 MLB seasons with the Phillies and another three with the White Sox, was a seven-time All-Star. He also won 1972 American League MVP honors with Chicago.
His No. 15 was retired by the Phillies in September, an honor that was considered long overdue by many for one of the franchise’s greatest players who fought against racism during a tumultuous period with the team in the 1960s.
“The Phillies are heartbroken over the passing today of our dear friend and co-worker, Dick Allen,” the team said.
“Dick will be remembered as not just one of the greatest and most popular players in our franchise’s history, but also as a courageous warrior who had to overcome far too many obstacles to reach the level he did. Dick’s iconic status will resonate for generations of baseball fans to come as one of the all-time greats to play America’s pastime,” the Phillies said.
Phillies managing partner John Middleton broke from the team’s longstanding “unwritten” policy of only retiring the number of players who are in the Hall of Fame to honor Allen.
“I thank the city of Philadelphia. Even though it was rough, I’ve made some friends along the way,” Allen said in an emotional ceremony on a warm, sunny afternoon.
Mike Schmidt, a Hall of Fame third baseman who helped lure Allen out of retirement to return to Philadelphia for a second stint with the team in 1975, was among the former players who attended the ceremony. They wore masks and sat several feet apart during the coronavirus pandemic that shortened the major league season to 60 games. The Phillies planned to honor Allen again in 2021 with fans in attendance.
Schmidt called Allen “an amazing mentor” who was wrongly labeled a “bad teammate” and “troublemaker.”
“Dick was a sensitive Black man who refused to be treated as a second-class citizen,” Schmidt said in a speech. “He played in front of home fans that were products of that racist era (with) racist teammates and different rules for whites and Blacks. Fans threw stuff at him and thus Dick wore a batting helmet throughout the whole game. They yelled degrading racial slurs. They dumped trash in his front yard at his home. In general, he was tormented and it came from all directions. And Dick rebelled.”
Schmidt pointed out Allen didn’t have a negative reputation playing for the St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox. He also campaigned for Allen’s induction into the Hall of Fame.
“My friends, these (negative) labels have kept Dick Allen out of the Hall of Fame,” Schmidt said. “Imagine what Dick could’ve accomplished as a player in another era, on another team, left alone to hone his skills, to be confident, to come to the ballpark every day and just play baseball.”
Allen was Middleton’s favorite player as a kid. He called the abuse Allen received “horrific” and pointed out his accomplishments are even greater considering the racism he endured.
Allen batted .292 with 351 homers, 1,119 RBIs and .912 OPS in 15 seasons. He played first base, third base and left field.
After seven seasons in Philadelphia, where he rose to prominence by hammering balls over the Coca-Cola sign and out of Connie Mack Stadium in batting practice, Allen played a season with the Cardinals and Dodgers.
In 1972, he joined the Chicago White Sox and was the AL MVP. He finished his 15-year career with Oakland in 1977.
Allen had the fifth-most home runs (319) over an 11-year span (1964-74) behind four Hall of Famers: Hank Aaron (391), Harmon Killebrew (336), Willie Stargell (335) and Willie McCovey (327). His .940 OPS during that time was second to Aaron’s .941.
Allen wasn’t elected into the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America and he fell one vote short in Golden Era Committee voting in 2014. The Golden Days Committee and the Early Days Committee did not vote this year because of COVID-19 and instead will meet during the winter of 2021.
“He is now reunited with his beloved daughter, Terri. The Phillies extend their condolences to Dick’s widow, Willa, his family, friends and all his fans from coast to coast,” the Phillies said.
The White Sox send our condolences to the family and friends of seven-time All-Star and 1972 A.L. MVP, Dick Allen, who passed away today. pic.twitter.com/KQmO6t9oAX
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) December 7, 2020
Despite a strong Hall of Fame case, Allen never managed more than 18.9 percent support in 14 years on the BBWAA ballot. He fell off the ballot in 1997.
Former Chicago White Sox’s Dick Allen throws out a ceremonial first pitch before an interleague baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers in Chicago, Sunday, June 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Contributing: Dayn Perry, CBS Sports. The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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