Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Remembering Dick Allen (1942-2020)

This post, featuring 1965 Topps #460, was originally published on my Collecting 1965 Topps blog in October.  As a result of the pandemic, the Golden Days Committee postponed its Hall of Fame vote until next year.

Richard Anthony Allen
Philadelphia Phillies
Third Base

Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  5'11"  Weight:  187
Born:  March 8, 1942, Wampum, PA
Signed:  Signed as an amateur free agent by the Philadelphia Phillies before the 1960 season
Major League Teams:  Philadelphia Phillies 1963-1969; St. Louis Cardinals 1970; Los Angeles Dodgers 1971; Chicago White Sox 1972-1974; Philadelphia Phillies 1975-1976; Oakland Athletics 1977

2006 Toyota Phillies Wall of Fame Postcards
A seven-time All-Star and the A.L. MVP in 1972, Dick Allen was one of the most feared sluggers of the '60s and '70s.  He won Rookie of the Year honors in 1964, hitting .318 and leading the league in runs scored (125) and triples (13) the year the Phillies heartbreakingly collapsed down the stretch.  The first black superstar for the Phillies, he dealt with racism throughout his climb up the team's minor league system and experienced a tense relationship with the media and fanbase during his years with the club.  Still, he was a prolific power hitter, landing in the top ten for home runs in National League in five seasons with the Phillies between 1964 and 1969.

Allen requested and received a trade following the 1969 season, and he played for two seasons with the Cardinals and Dodgers before landing with the White Sox in 1972 and experiencing another power surge.  He hit .308 for the 1972 White Sox and led the league in home runs (37) and RBIs (113) en route to winning the league's MVP honors.  Allen was coaxed out of retirement following the 1974 season and re-joined the Phillies in 1975.  He saw his first and only postseason action with the club in 1976, teaming with Mike Schmidt and Greg Luzinski to form a formidable middle of the line-up.

Over 15 big league seasons, Allen hit .292 with 351 home runs and 1,119 RBIs, and he's widely acknowledged as one of the best players in the history of the game not yet in the Hall of Fame.  He'll get another shot at the Hall in December when The Golden Days Committee is scheduled to vote again.  On August 13, 2020, the Phillies announced they would be retiring Allen's #15, reversing a long-time policy of the club not to retire the number of any player not yet in the Hall of Fame.

Building the Set
August 18, 2020 from Morton Grove, IL - Card #140
I went searching on eBay for this card the day the Phillies announced they would be retiring Allen's #15 during a September 3rd ceremony, marking the 53rd anniversary of Allen's big league debut.  This is the fourth time I've decided to purchase a card no matter what, given the circumstances of a specific day.  Here's the list so far:
  • Don Larsen (#389) - Purchased on New Year's Day 2020 after the pitcher's passing.
  • Jim Kaat (#62) - Purchased in February at the Philly Show as the pitcher was one of the show's autograph guests.  I wanted to buy the card there and have Kaat sign it.
  • Al Kaline (#130) - Bought on April 6th after the Hall of Famer had passed away.
  • Richie Allen (#460) - Shopped for and purchased on August 13th, the day of the Phillies' announcement.
I honestly didn't expect the Allen card to be as pricey as it ended up being, but this continues the recent trend of prices going up for these vintage Topps cards.  I still suspect the pandemic has had the unexpected side effect of bringing people to or back into the hobby.  I looked through quite a few cards and took my time with my decision before settling on a card for sale from the exotically named eBay seller, psychedelicart69.

The Card / Phillies Team Set
This is a beautiful baseball card with the golden All-Star Rookie trophy perfectly positioned.  Flipping to the back, Allen's two home run day came on October 4th, after the Phillies had already completed their collapse.  Topps then summarizes the highlights of Allen's stellar rookie year.

While not a reprint, Allen received a card in the style of the 1965 Topps set in the 2004 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites set.

1965 Season
Allen again served as the team's regular third baseman, starting 160 of the team's 162 games.  He hit .302 with 20 home runs and 85 RBIs, with his numbers dipping slightly from the prior year.  He originally refused to report to spring training, requesting a hefty raise following his rookie campaign and eventually coming to terms with then general manager John Quinn for $20,000.  Allen hit the first ever regular season home run at the Astrodome on April 12th and hit a home run that reportedly went 510 feet off the Cubs' Larry Jackson (#420) on May 29th.

Prior to the game on July 3rd and according to various accounts, Frank Thomas (#123) and Allen got into a fight.  Different reports have Thomas using racial slurs or swinging a bat in Allen's direction after Allen had taken a swing at him.  Whatever truly happened marked the end of Thomas' Phillies career as he was put on waivers following the game and sold to the Astros on July 10th.  There's a great article, linked here and authored by Frank Fitzpatrick, that appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2015 to mark the 50th anniversary of the fight.

At the All-Star Game on July 13th, Allen was the starting N.L. third baseman and went 1 for 3 with a single off Pete Richert (#252).

Phillies Career
In his nine seasons with the Phillies, Allen hit .290 with 204 home runs and 655 RBIs.  He currently ranks second in club history with a .530 slugging percentage (behind Chuck Klien's .553) and 10th on the team's all-time home run list.  He was inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame in 1994.

He also joined the team's front office in 1994 as a fan representative and the 2020 Phillies Media Guide lists his current official title as Club Ambassador.

1964 Topps #243
1966 Topps #80
1968 Topps #225
1975 Topps #400
1976 Topps #455
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1964 Topps #243
Topps Flagship Set Appearances (13):  1964-1976
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  2009 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions #15

226 - Allen non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 8/17/20.

Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
The Phillies Room
The Trading Card Database

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