Many players over the years have been adept at stirring up controversy but few were as masterful at the art as one Dick Allen. Despite his splendid hitting, teams were always willing to depart with Allen because of his attitude and his penchant for creating clubhouse factions.
Richie Allen was a rookie sensation with the Phillies in 1964. The poor-fielding, fine-hitting third baseman led the NL in runs scored and total bases while tying for the lead in triples. He was the Majors top hitting hot corner man, slapping the pill at a .318 clip. In the field however, Allen struggled but the Phillies were determined to make the heavy hitter a third baseman so they kept inserting him at the hot corner despite his shortcomings. In 1965, Allen was the only .300 hitting third baseman in the Major Leagues, which helped offset is high strikeout totals.
Allen became the NL’s top slugger in 1966, leading the senior circuit with a .632 slugging average. He finished fourth in MVP voting, trailing Hank Aaron in homeruns (he was the only infielder to club 40 homers) and finishing third in the NL with 110 RBI. An All-Star for the third year in a row in 1967, Allen topped the NL with a .404 on-base percentage while leading all third basemen in batting average.
When Allen’s terrible fielding reached an all-time low in ’67 (he had an abysmal .908 fielding %) the Phillies gave up on him as a third baseman and moved his booming bat to the outfield. As a left fielder in 1968, he finished second in the NL with 33 homeruns. The shifting on the diamond wasn’t over for Allen who was moved to first base in 1969. That year was his last with the Phillies. Although he clubbed 32 homers, his reputation as a hothead reached the boiling point and the Phillies suspended their slugger during the season. In the off season he was the centerpiece in a trade that sent him to St. Louis in the infamous Curt Flood deal.
Allen’s tenure in St. Louis didn’t last long. Although he supplied the Redbirds with plenty of offensive oomph (34 HR and 101 RBI) they were more than happy to see him depart after the season, trading him to the Dodgers for Ted Sizemore and catcher Bob Stinson. The Dodgers didn’t know where to hide Dick in the field and rotated him around the diamond – playing him at third, first and left field. Despite all the defensive realignments, Dick led the Dodgers in homeruns and RBI.
Allen joined the White Sox in 1972 – his fourth team in four years – and turned things around under skipper Chuck Tanner. Cajoling the tempermental star, Tanner coaxed an amazing season out of Allen. Dick led the AL in homeruns, RBI, walks, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, netting the MVP Award at season’s end. When it looked like his career had gained some stability, Allen broke his leg in 1973 and only appeared in 72 games.
Allen came back in 1974 to lead the AL in homeruns and slugging average while appearing in his seventh and final All-Star Game. During the off season Allen was traded to Atlanta but before he played a game with the Braves, he was dealt to the Phillies. He had a horrible year back in Philadelphia but got his only taste of postseason play with the Phillies in 1976. Allen hit .222 in an NLCS loss to Cincy. He played one final year with the Oakland A’s before hanging ’em up.
G 1,749/R 1,099/H 1,848/2B 320/3B 79/HR 351/RBI 1,119/BB 894/SO 1,556/SB 133/BA .292/SA .534