Jim Salisbury

Phillies to retire slugger Dick Allen’s No. 15; Cooperstown next?

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AP

Phillies to retire slugger Dick Allen’s No. 15; Cooperstown next?

Dick Allen, the power-hitting former Phillie known for bashing baseballs over the wall, and, occasionally, the roof, at old Connie Mack Stadium, will have his uniform number raised onto the wall at Citizens Bank Park later this summer.

The team announced on Thursday that it would retire Allen's No. 15 on Sept. 3, the 57th anniversary of Allen's Phillies debut.

"Dick Allen burst onto the 1964 Phillies and immediately established himself as a superstar," Phillies managing partner John Middleton said in a statement. "His legendary performance on the field gave millions of fans lasting memories, and he helped cement my love for baseball and the Phillies as a young boy. The Phillies organization is thrilled to give Dick and his family this honor that recognizes his Hall of Fame-worthy career and his legacy as one of the greatest Phillies of all time."

Allen will become the eighth former Phillie to have his number retired by the club, joining Richie Ashburn (1), Jim Bunning (14), Mike Schmidt (20), Steve Carlton (32), Robin Roberts (36) and Roy Halladay (34). Grover Cleveland Alexander and Chuck Klein did not wear regular numbers, but their jerseys have been retired.

Allen is the only one of these players not to be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, but that could change in December when he once again will be on the Hall of Fame's Golden Days ballot. The Golden Days committee considers those who played from 1950 to 1969. Allen fell one vote shy of making the Hall of Fame when the committee last voted in December 2014 and there has been considerable public support for his election this time. Schmidt has come out in support of Allen and Mark Carfagno, a former Veterans Stadium groundskeeper and close friend of Allen, has led a social media campaign.

Retiring Allen's number without his being a Hall of Famer touches on an interesting and growing debate surrounding the Phillies.

The team previously had an unwritten policy of only retiring the numbers of players who had been elected to the Hall of Fame. By retiring Allen's number at this time, the Phillies have left open the possibility of retiring the numbers worn by Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. None of the three have appeared on a Hall of Fame ballot yet and their candidacies are far from being slam dunks.

But as Phillies players, Rollins, Utley and Howard were all-time greats — the best shortstop, second baseman and first baseman, respectively, in club history. Their contributions helped the Phillies win five division titles, two National League pennants and a World Series from 2007-11. Rollins is the franchise's all-time hits leader and a former NL MVP. Utley was the Phillies' most popular player and the top offensive second baseman in the game until knee injuries robbed him of some of his prime years. Howard was an NL rookie of the year, an MVP and a home run and RBI king.

If the Phillies are going to consider non-Hall of Famers for number retirement, they also could one day look at Charlie Manuel, the World Series-winning manager who presided over the most successful period in club history, and Larry Bowa, a brilliant shortstop, World Series champion, and fan favorite who has contributed to the organization for decades as a player, coach, manager, adviser and ambassador.

Allen, 68, still works for the Phillies as ambassador. A native of Wampum, Pennsylvania (northwest of Pittsburgh), he signed with the Phillies as an 18-year-old in 1960. Four years later, the young third baseman hit .318 with 38 doubles, 13 triples, 29 home runs and 91 RBIs. The seemingly pennant-bound Phillies infamously collapsed down the stretch in that 1964 season, but Allen was named NL rookie of the year, an award that was later renamed in honor of one of his heroes, Jackie Robinson.

Allen spent nine of his 15 seasons with the Phillies and represented the club three times as an All-Star. He hit 204 of his 351 career homers with the Phillies. He swung a bat so big — 40 ounces or more in some seasons — that teammates thought it was a weighted bat used for warmups. Allen finished fourth in the NL MVP race in 1966 behind Roberto Clemente, Sandy Koufax and Willie Mays. He hit .317 with 25 doubles, 10 triples, 40 homers, 110 RBIs and a league-leading .632 slugging percentage that season.

Allen twice led the American League in homers, slugging and OPS for the Chicago White Sox, including in 1972 when he was AL MVP.

On the all-time list, Allen ranks 43rd with a .536 slugging percentage.

In an 11-year stretch from 1964 to 1974, in an era of dominant pitchers, he was one of the most dangerous hitters in the game. He averaged 29 homers and 89 RBIs over that span while hitting .299 with a .940 OPS. Only Hall of Famer Hank Aaron's .941 OPS was better over that span. Allen slugged .554 from 1964 to 1974, second only to Aaron's .561. Only Hall of Famers Billy Williams and Aaron had more extra-base hits than Allen's 670 in that 11-year run.

Allen posted better numbers than many of his contemporaries who were elected to the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Allen, however, never received more than 18.9 percent of the necessary 75 percent for election to the Hall by the writers. He fell off the ballot in 1997.

Allen's Hall of Fame candidacy during his time on the writers' ballot was clearly impacted by some of the off-field baggage he'd accumulated as a player. As a young player, Allen was occasionally rebellious and insubordinate. He battled with teammates and managers and was a target for fans. He tried to force a trade from Philadelphia by writing messages in the dirt around first base at Connie Mack Stadium.

The passage of time has offered new and more empathetic perspectives on Allen's behavior and what he was going through at the time. He dealt with racism as a Phillies minor-leaguer in the South. The Phillies were the last team in the NL to integrate and Allen was the club's first African American star at a time of racial tension in America.

Allen is the first African American to have his number retired by the Phillies. Backup catcher Andrew Knapp had been wearing No. 15. He will switch to No. 7.

And now, with his number going up on the bricks beyond the centerfield wall at Citizens Bank Park, the only remaining question regarding Dick Allen's greatness as a player will be answered this winter when the Hall of Fame's Golden Days Committee considers his merits once again.

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Phillies to promote prospect Alec Bohm, per sources

Phillies to promote prospect Alec Bohm, per sources

Updated: 2:40 p.m.

Alec Bohm is a Phillie. The Phillies promoted their top position player prospect prior to Thursday's series finale against the Orioles.

In a corresponding move, Adam Haseley was placed on the 10-day injured list with a left wrist sprain.

Bohm had not been on the 40-man roster. To make room for him, right-handed reliever Edgar Garcia was designated for assignment.

Bohm, a corner infielder, hit .305/.378/.518 with 21 home runs and 80 RBIs in 540 plate appearances last season at Lakewood (A), Clearwater (High A) and Reading (Double A). He did not spend any time at Triple A.

The Phillies' corner infielders have struggled early. First baseman Rhys Hoskins has hit .190 with one RBI and third baseman Jean Segura has hit .205. Both were involved in a costly misplay in the ninth inning Tuesday. Second baseman Scott Kingery is also off to a slow start at 4 for 40. He had been sick with COVID earlier in the summer and appears to still be building strength.

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Is it time for Rhys Hoskins to sit, or will a 'good snap' get him going?

Is it time for Rhys Hoskins to sit, or will a 'good snap' get him going?

Normally mild-mannered Rhys Hoskins crossed first base after hitting into a double play with two men on in the fourth inning. He yanked his helmet from his head and smashed it to the ground.

Frustration has arrived for the Phillies.

And Hoskins, in particular.

The Phils fell to 5-8 in the 60-game sprint after a 5-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday night. The Phils have lost four of their last five and are in danger of being swept Thursday afternoon by a club that lost 108 games last year.

Hoskins grounded into three double plays, becoming the first Phillie to do that in a game since Placido Polanco in 2010. He walked and struck out in his other two plate appearances. He hit .180 after the All-Star break last season and is hitting .190 (8 for 42) with no homers and one RBI on the new season.
 
That's enough to make anyone smash a helmet.

Or five.

"Sometimes a good snap helps you get out of things," manager Joe Girardi said. "So maybe it will work."

Hoskins has played in every game and held down the No. 2 spot in the batting order. He does bring value to the offense because he's walked 14 times to fuel a .404 on-base percentage. But, of the 21 players who have batted second at least 10 times in the majors this season, he is the only one without multiple RBIs.

Girardi was asked if he planned on possibly giving Hoskins a day off or dropping him in the batting order.

"There are no plans to move him right now," said Girardi, citing Hoskins' on-base skills.

Girardi did not say if he was planning to give Hoskins a day off. Hoskins' good friend, second baseman Scott Kingery, is off to a 4 for 40 start. He got the night off against a left-handed pitcher (Wade LeBlanc) on Wednesday night.

With J.T. Realmuto serving as the DH, Andrew Knapp got the start behind the plate with Zach Eflin on the mound. Knapp led the Phillies' offense with three hits and two RBIs.

Knapp is also close with Hoskins. What does he see in his teammate?

"I don't think he's pressing too hard," Knapp said. "Obviously, we'd like to be winning more games so I think everyone in the clubhouse is a little frustrated with where we're at.

"Rhys is a great player and it's still really early. I think the fact that he's taking his walks and still getting on base shows he's going to get out of this thing. He's one or two days from really popping and showing who he really is.

"I think he's pressing a little as far as wanting to produce and being that guy to really help a team. But it's so early. I think he's totally going to be fine."

Eflin flashed some brilliance in his second start of the season. He used his sinker often — he said he believes he has one of the best in the majors — and struck out a career-high 10 batters.

However, Eflin got hurt three times on breaking balls as he could not hold a 3-1 lead. He threw two sliders that left the yard and a curveball that Chance Sisco blooped to left for two killer runs in the fourth.

Eflin did not second-guess throwing the breaking balls. He acknowledged the bloop hit for what it was and said he needed better execution on both the sliders.

"As good as (the sinker) is, you can't throw just one pitch in this league," Girardi said. "He just has to make a little better pitch with the breaking ball.

"He pitched well. The ball by Sisco fell in and cost us two runs."

Eflin, whose career has been marked by inconsistency, times when he's dazzled and other times when he's pitched himself out of the rotation, looked at the 10 strikeouts and surmised, "It feels like the puzzle is coming together. I felt really good. But it sucks to see four runs on the board."

In all, Baltimore hit three homers. Reliever Adam Morgan gave up one in the seventh to give the Orioles some late cushion that came in handy after the Phils scored one in the eighth before fading out.

The Phillies' bullpen has allowed 41 earned runs in 38⅓ innings for a majors-worst 9.63 ERA.

"It's very highlighted right now that our bullpen is struggling," Morgan said. "We had a lot of time down, then ramping up, then down again because of the Marlins issue. No excuses, but the more rhythm and consistency we get, the better we'll be." 

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