Dick Allen deserves to be a Hall of Famer
Golden Era Committee reveals no electees despite deserving names
SAN DIEGO -- If there's a silver lining to Dick Allen and Tony Oliva missing the Hall of Fame cut on Monday, it's that when this fickle committee votes again in three years their chances should be even greater.
Allen and Oliva each fell one vote short of the 12 required during balloting by the 16-member Golden Era (1947-72) Committee.
As disappointing as Monday's result was, I believe this vote propelled the enormously talented, often contentious Allen to a lofty position for future consideration.
Oliva will continue to get strong support and Jim Kaat, who missed by two votes, will once again be a factor.
Allen should be in the Hall of Fame. Period.
Of the 10 players considered, Allen has the best statistics to go with his Rookie of the Year Award (1964) and MVP (1972).
Or as Hall of Famer Goose Gossage told USA TODAY, "I've been around the game a long time and he's the greatest player I've ever seen and the smartest baseball man I've ever been around in my life. The guy belongs in the Hall of Fame."
The attention Allen received leading up to the election announced at the Winter Meetings should help his case tremendously.
Jim Bunning, who himself had a long wait before being elected by the Veterans Committee to the Hall of Fame, agrees.
"To get 11 votes out of 16 in his first consideration, I would think he'll be on the next Golden Era ballot," said Bunning, a former Allen teammate and a member of the committee.
"You know, I played with him for four years, and his career statistics match up with anybody who played first or third base that is in or should be in the Hall of Fame. He was the guy who other teams said, 'Don't let him beat you.' That was discussed thoroughly yesterday during our meeting."
I asked Bunning, a former U.S. Senator, why certain committee members did not vote for Allen.
"Because we could only vote for four people on the ballot," Bunning said. "To put Allen on somebody might have left Gil Hodges or another player off.
"I'm just completely disappointed. That's all I can say."
Across the Grand Hyatt hotel ballroom, Mark "Froggy" Carfagno, a former Phillies groundskeeper who led a campaign to elect Allen, was in the midst of his postmortems.
Once, Froggy, wearing an old wool Phillies uniform top with Allen's No. 15 on the back, broke down and had to walk away to control his emotions.
"We kept hearing this morning that no one was getting in," he said. "Then, they say 11 [votes] and you think, 'Oh God! I would have rather heard Dick got just four or five.' That would have been easier to accept."
Froggy's sometimes overbearing campaign didn't go for naught.
I'll be surprised if between now and 2017 when the Golden Era Committee votes again, Allen doesn't become the favored candidate.
Allen's son, Richard Jr., stood next to Carfagno and said, "This was a good shot. But maybe in the next three years people will see some things they didn't really know. I found out some things during the past month or so that I didn't know about him.
"Yes, this has opened up some eyes to things."
During the 10-year period from 1964, when he broke in with the Phillies and almost helped them win their first National League title since 1950, through 1974, baseball historians believe he was the best player in baseball.
"He was the best athlete I've ever played with," said former Phillies teammate Pat Corrales. "I've never seen anyone hit longer home runs than this man. He was amazing."
One of the rips against Allen and might have hurt him in the election is that he did things his way. Maybe he was misunderstood, but when he'd not show up for a game or be involved in other types of controversies, the tough Philadelphia media turned against him.
It has often been mentioned that his 15-year career was too short. And it has often been pointed out he received no more than 18.9 percent of the vote during 15 years on the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot.
Before Monday's election, Allen said in an interview he was almost embarrassed by the attention he was suddenly getting.
"I was booed my whole life, and not to actually have a chance to be in the Hall of Fame, you're humbled," he said. "This would mean a lot to so many people."
Getting elected and having a plaque hung in the Hall of Fame is very difficult.
"I don't need to remind you that only one percent of all men to have ever played baseball are in Cooperstown," said Hall of Fame chairman Jane Forbes Clark said. "This result merely reaffirms how very difficult it is to be elected."
But Monday's knocking on the Hall of Fame door by Allen was loud. Chances are good that in three years the door will open ... wide.