There’s no crying in baseball.
Tom Hanks, playing baseball manager Jimmy Dugan, screamed that line in the 1992 hit movie, “A League of Their Own.”
Perhaps that explains why the Waumpum Walloper, also known as Dick Allen, didn’t shed a tear during the Philadelphia Phillies Alumni Weekend celebration last weekend at Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies’ first Black superstar, who knew how to patiently wait on a pitcher’s mistake to hit a ball seemingly into another ZIP code, is diligently waiting for the day he receives word that he’s been elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He’s also waiting for the day the Phillies finally retire his number 15.
In 2014, a special “Golden Era” Veterans Committee, which at the time voted every three years, considered Allen for induction. To be elected, Allen had to appear on 75 percent of the ballots, or secure 12 of the 16 votes cast by the committee members. Allen and Tony Oliva both received 11 votes and the committee didn’t elect anyone. The Golden Days committee will select a new Hall of Fame class in December 2020, for induction in 2021.
Many Allen supporters were preparing for December 2017, when the Golden Era Committee was scheduled to vote. But the Hall restructured the committee, forming two voting groups — Modern Baseball (1970-1987) and Golden Days (1950-1969), which won’t vote until 2020.
Although Allen’s career spanned both eras, his candidacy was pushed back to 2020 because his best years came with the Phillies in the 1960s.
Actually, Allen’s achievements were evenly divided between both eras. He was an All-Star for seven seasons (1965-67, ’70, ’72-’74). In addition to winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 1964, Allen was named the American League’s Most Valuable Player in 1972 while playing for the Chicago White Sox. During his 15-year major-league career, Allen batted .292, including seven seasons (1964-67, 1972-74) at the .300 mark or higher. He also hit a total of 351 home runs. Of those homers, 177 came with the Phillies in the 1960s, but the rest were hit in the 1970s and included the only two times he led the American League in home runs (1972, 1974).
“I think he will make the cut [in 2020]. It should be a no-brainer because he missed by one vote in 2014,” said Mark Carfagno, campaign manager for Dick Allen Belongs in HOF. “What concerns me is his health. Will [Allen, who is now 77] be around in December of 2020 when the vote takes place and if he is elected will he be around when the official induction takes place not until July of 2021? That’s 23 months.
“As far as his number being retired I am not only speaking for myself but the hundreds if not thousands of messages I receive from the fans who saw him play especially in Philly and Chicago. They are infuriated that he is not in the Hall of Fame and those in Philly want his number retired. Here is why. By retiring his number BEFORE being elected to the Hall of Fame makes a twofold statement. One, the Phillies as an organization are telling him and fans that they realize what he went through his first time around in Philadelphia. The booing and throwing of objects and treatment by the media was unfair, so as a reward we realize what a great talent he was and despite all of the adversity he still played at an optimum level and Hall of Fame level.
“Secondly,” Carfagno said, “it sends a message to the Hall of Fame. ‘Look what we did, we made an exception to our policy because we think he is a Hall of Famer and he really was a pioneer being the first African American Baseball Superstar who played in Philadelphia who at times stood up for what he thought was right.’ To me that’s a HERO!”
For the Phillies, retiring a player’s uniform number before their enshrinement in Cooperstown, New York, isn’t new. For example, Mike Schmidt’s No. 20 was retired by the Phillies before a game on May 26, 1990. That same season, he was inducted as a member of the Philadelphia Baseball Wall of Fame. He was inducted on his first ballot into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995.
The late Jim Bunning, whose No. 14 was retired in 2001, was placed on the wall in 1984. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.
The late Richie Ashburn’s number 1 was retired by the Phillies in 1979, the same year he was placed on the wall. Ashburn was inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame the same year with Schmidt.
Allen was named to the Wall of Fame in 1994. He’s one of two African Americans on the wall. The other Black inductee is Garry Maddox, who made the wall in 2001. Other players of color on the wall include Cuban Tony Taylor (2002), Juan Samuel from the Dominican Republic (2008) and Bobby Abreu, a native of Venezuela who was enshrined on Aug. 3.
In time, Allen will get a place in Cooperstown, where the National Baseball Hall of Fame is located. In time, the Phillies will also retire his number. Carfagno and others wish the process was faster.