The Phillies on Thursday will immortalize slugger Dick Allen by retiring his jersey No. 15. He will be the first Phillies player to be so honored without already being in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
That last part needs to be made right by Cooperstown.
This could change in the fall of next year, when the Hall’s Golden Days Committee votes on players from that era. Allen missed induction by one vote in 2014.
Allen was one of the most consistent, prolific power hitters of the era in which he played, an era that featured some of the greatest home run hitters in the game’s history.
Taking the span from 1964 to 1974 — 11 full seasons — Allen was among the best in the game. His OPS over that run (.940) was second among all players who played at least 1,000 games. Only Hank Aaron’s was higher (.941). A look at an expanded list, shows every one of the top 11 players in the Hall of Fame, except for Allen.
OPS from 1964-1974
- Hank Aaron* .941
- Dick Allen .940
- Willie McCovey* .937
- Frank Robinson* .914
- Willie Stargell* .905
- Roberto Clemente* .892
- Willie Mays* .890
- Harmon Killebrew* .887
- Carl Yastrzemski* .883
- Billy Williams* .877
- Reggie Jackson* .866
*Hall of Famer
Allen also ranked second to Aaron in slugging percentage (.554), and was in the top 10 in homers, RBI, batting average, runs scored and walks.
He won NL Rookie of the Year with the Phillies in 1964, AL MVP with the White Sox in 1972, and was named to seven All-Star teams over that span.
Yet with all those numbers, he never approached the votes needed by baseball writers to make the Hall of Fame. So why the snub for a player with such credentials? Allen had a combative reputation as a player. He held out prior to his second season at the big-league level — virtually unheard of at the time — fought with teammates, agitated managers, earned multiple suspensions and outwardly voiced his displeasure with being booed by Phillies fans.
While you can criticize his acts on and off the field, you can’t argue that he was one of the game’s best players during the time he played. The Hall of Fame is littered with great players who are also not the nicest people in the world. There is no Congeniality Wing in Cooperstown.
When the Golden Days Committee gathers again to name its latest class, Allen’s name needs to be at or near the top of that list. No one gets into the Hall of Fame strictly on being nice; they get in because they were great.