Philadelphia Phillies (1B / 3B)
The best eligible player to not be in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, and one of the most fearsome bats in the history of the game, has passed away earlier today. The legendary Phillies slugger came within one vote of being elected to the Hall of Fame by the Golden Era Committee in his most recent year of eligibility. He's was scheduled to be on the ballot again in 2020, but voting has been postponed until 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The way this man was treated by the fans and press during his playing career was shameful, and the fact that he wasn't elected to the Hall Of Fame while he was still with us to enjoy it is downright criminal.
Mr. Allen's 1964 season is one of the most remarkable performances by a rookie in the history of the game. The dynamic superstar crashed into the league batting .318 with 29 home runs, and he led the league in extra base hits, runs, triples and total bases. He won Rookie Of The Year and finished 7th in the MVP voting. He would go on to win the AL MVP Award in 1972 for the White Sox, and was a 7 time All-Star. In the 11 year span from 1964 to 1974, Allen hit 299 with 319 home runs and was second only to Hank Aaron with a .940 OPS. His career OPS+ is the second highest of any retired player who hasn't already been inducted into the Hall of Fame (only Mark McGwire's is higher, and his career totals were artificially enhanced by steroid use and, in my opinion, invalid).
In 1994, the Phillies legend was inducted to the Wall of Fame, and his #15 was retired by the franchise earlier this season. Sadly, he did not get to participate in a ceremony in front of the fans, due again to the Covid-19 pandemic.
I only ever got to see Mr. Allen play on videotape because he retired three years before I was born, but I got to see him once in person during Alumni Night in 2017. I grew up hearing stories about him because he was my dad's favorite player when he was a kid.
One of the things I was most looking forward to in 2020 was the August 9th game. It was scheduled to be this season's Alumni Night, where Phillies legends return to and meet with the fans. Dad wasn't with me at the game in 2017, but we ordered tickets before either of us ever heard of Covid-19 to go to this game. I was looking forward to sitting next to my pop while we both watched the heroes of our respective childhoods take the field at Citizens Bank Park, including the legendary Dick Allen.
I don't really believe in an afterlife; at least not the kind that are written about in religious books. However, if the Christians have it right and there's a heaven out there somewhere that allows us to connect with family and friends who have passed, I hope that Dick is having a catch with Tony Taylor tonight.
Rest in peace, Mr. Allen. Thank you for giving my dad an awesome ballplayer to cheer for when he was a kid, and for remaining strong and proud in the face of ignorance, and for being a huge part of something that my dad and I have shared throughout our lives.