Baseball fans should be outraged by Phillies legend Dick Allen’s Hall of Fame snub

PITTSBURGH - JULY 1976: Dick Allen of the Philadelphia Phillies bats during a Major League Baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium in July 1976 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH - JULY 1976: Dick Allen of the Philadelphia Phillies bats during a Major League Baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium in July 1976 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images) /

Phillies legend Dick Allen’s continued exclusion from the Baseball Hall of Fame is unacceptable

Starting Monday morning off mad isn’t an ideal way to start the workweek, but if you’re a baseball fan, you should be outraged that Philadelphia Phillies legend Dick Allen was once again snubbed by the Hall of Fame.

The Pennsylvania native had a prestigious 15-year career that included winning Rookie of the Year in 1964, MVP in 1972, and seven All-Star seasons. Throughout his career, he led MLB and whichever league he was in at the time in numerous offensive categories, including runs scored, home runs (twice), RBI, on-base percentage, slugging, OPS, and total bases. Allen averaged 33 home runs and 104 RBI per 162 games and finished his career with a lifetime .292/.378/.534 line and .912 OPS. In 1966, only Hank Aaron hit more home runs than Allen.

Unlike many things in this world that do not age well, modern stats actually make Allen’s career is more impressive. OPS+ takes a player’s OPS and factors in external factors like ballparks. The league average is 100, so it’s easy to tell if a player is above or below the average hitter. The metric did not exist when Allen was on the regular BBWAA ballot, but now shows just how valuable he was.

As Cooperstown Cred noted ahead of the ballot results, between 1964-74, Allen’s 165 OPS+ led MLB players with a minimum of 5,000 plate appearances. That means that in his heyday, Allen was outranking Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Willie Mays, and Carl Yastrzemski, to name a few of the stars with whom his career overlapped. They’re all in the Hall, but Allen is not.

Baseball media members outraged by Dick Allen’s exclusion from Hall of Fame

Several media members were understandably outraged by Allen’s exclusion:

Allen’s numbers were on par, if not better than other players who have been enshrined for decades. Players with less impressive numbers are in there, too. Logically, one would assume that the newer, advanced stats would help his case, which makes his exclusion all the more baffling.

Racism plagued Dick Allen’s career and continues to impact his legacy

Racism impacted Allen’s entire career and remains a key reason why he is still on the outside looking in all these years later. When he was coming up in the Phillies’ minor league system and playing in the south, he received so many death threats that he nearly quit the game. When he debuted, he was often booed by Phillies fans.

"“Dick Allen, through the color of his skin and the way he spoke his mind, had become the symbolic face that unleashed white anxiety and discontent with the changing complexion of the city…”Mitchell Nathanson"

When Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, he had to bite his tongue in the face of the virulent racism he endured. Allen refused to do the same. In 1965, a racially-charged incident with teammate Frank Thomas would alter Allen’s career. The 35-year-old Thomas reportedly asked 23-year-old Allen, “Hey boy, can you carry my bags to the lobby?” on a road trip. The following week, Thomas made another comment during batting practice and the two got into a serious physical brawl.

The Phillies placed Thomas on irrevocable waivers that day and ordered the rest of the players to say nothing to the media. But cut from the team, Thomas was under no such constraints. He claimed that Allen had cost him his job, villainizing his former teammate to the point that Phillies fans were throwing things at him during games and sending his family death threats. The white player became the sympathetic victim, the Black player an unlikeable troublemaker. And the Phillies never spoke out to correct the narrative that consumed their young star.

Hall of Famer Willie Stargell, whose career overlapped with Allen’s, was interviewed for Allen’s autobiography Crash:

"“Dick Allen played the game in the most conservative era in baseball history. It was a time of change and protest in the country, and baseball reacted against all that. They saw it as a threat to the game. The sportswriters were reactionary too. They didn’t like seeing a man of such extraordinary skills doing it his way. It made them nervous. Dick Allen was ahead of his time. His views and way of doing things would go unnoticed today.”"

Allen’s teammate Goose Gossage, who is also in the Hall, called Allen “The greatest player I’ve ever seen in my life,” and “the smartest baseball man I’ve ever been around.”

Allen, by most accounts, paved the way for future POC players to be themselves. Seemingly undeterred by the unfair reputation he’d been handed, Allen valued himself and demanded fair compensation in the era of baseball when free agency did not yet exist, and a Black player wanting to be paid more was considered especially outrageous and disrespectful. Black players were supposed to follow the rules, but he would not bend. That he continues to be punished is an indictment on where the sport and its gatekeepers still stand: rooted firmly in the past.

Dick Allen should be in the Hall of Fame, end of story. That he continues to be excluded is an insult to the game of baseball, but more importantly, to his skill, legacy, and memory.

3 Post-lockout moves the Phillies need to make immediately. light. Trending