PHILADELPHIA -- Dick Allen had a Hall of Fame career, even if he is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Still, he should probably be there.
On Sunday night, MLB Network announced that the 16-member Golden Days Era Committee failed to elect Allen posthumously into the Hall of Fame. It elected Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Miñoso and Tony Oliva. Allen, who died last December at 78, needed 12 votes to earn enshrinement. He received 11.
Allen also fell one vote short during Golden Days Era Committee voting in 2014.
Two close votes in seven years. It is almost too cruel to believe.
Allen’s Hall of Fame case had been gaining momentum in recent years, especially after the 2014 vote. The Phillies took the step to retire Allen’s No. 15 in September 2020. It was an honor previously reserved for players only in the Hall of Fame.
However, Phillies managing partner John Middleton made the proper course correction. In his mind, why should the team not recognize Allen’s career just because the Baseball Writers' Association of America and the Golden Days Era Committee failed to recognize him in the past?
“Let’s be candid here, when you look at the voting of the Hall or the record of the Veterans Committee, it’s not exactly consistent,” Middleton said last summer. “There’s a lot of times when you scratch your head.”
Allen, who spent the majority of his career at first and third base, likely should have been elected by the BBWAA decades ago. He slashed .292/.378/.534 with 351 home runs, 1,119 RBIs and a 156 OPS+ in a 15-year career with the Phillies, Cardinals, Dodgers, White Sox and A’s. He won the 1964 National League Rookie of the Year Award. He won the 1972 AL MVP Award. He made seven All-Star teams, including three with the Phillies. He earned MVP votes in six other seasons.
From 1964-74, Allen posted a 58.3 bWAR. It tied Willie Mays for sixth among position players in that 11-year span, behind only Hank Aaron (68.8), Carl Yastrzemski (68.1), Roberto Clemente (64.7), Ron Santo (60.1) and Brooks Robinson (59.3). Pete Rose (58.0), Frank Robinson (55.4) and Joe Morgan (54.0) rounded out the top 10.
Allen’s career WAR of 58.8 ranks 10th among him and the 17 third basemen in the Hall of Fame. It is 14th among him and the 24 first basemen.
“If you look at all players in the Hall of Fame, Dick would be around 140 out of 260 players, which means there’s 125 players after Dick, below Dick’s WAR,” Middleton said.
The 16-member panel consisted of Hall of Fame members Rod Carew, Fergie Jenkins, Mike Schmidt, John Schuerholz, Bud Selig, Ozzie Smith and Joe Torre; MLB executives Al Avila, Bill DeWitt, Ken Kendrick, Kim Ng and Tony Reagins; and veteran media members/historians Adrian Burgos Jr., Steve Hirdt, Jaime Jarrín and Jack O’Connell.
Each member of the panel can only vote for four players, so Allen may have fallen short because of the voting rules and a loaded ballot.
“We were sad to hear that Dick Allen came up short of the votes needed at the Golden Era election today,” Schmidt said in a statement. “Every effort was made to present a positive case for Dick, who also missed by one vote in 2014. Congratulations to those elected, especially former Phillie Jim Kaat.”
Schmidt was Allen’s teammate with the Phillies. He was a vocal supporter of Allen's Hall of Fame candidacy.
“Dick did the wrong thing; he became the best player on his team,” Schmidt said during Allen’s number retirement ceremony last summer. “He became the star of the team. He was a sensitive Black man who refused to be treated as a second-class citizen. … Dick has had to fight labels his entire life. We’re going to shake those labels loose, Dick, and do our best to let the Hall of Fame know that you deserve a spot in it.”
Allen never received serious consideration from the BBWAA. His name appeared on only 3.7 percent of ballots cast in his first year of Hall of Fame eligibility in 1983, well short of the 75 percent needed for enshrinement. He never received more than 18.9 percent of the vote before he fell off the ballot. A big reason why is that he spoke his mind as a Black player who was often the target of racial epithets in the 1960s and '70s. He was labeled a bad teammate and a troublemaker, which Schmidt said last summer “kept Dick Allen out of the Hall of Fame.”
“It makes the extraordinary achievement even more special when you consider the circumstances, the conditions under which he had to live and perform,” Middleton said. “Do I believe in my heart that he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame? Yes. Do I hope that someday he will be elected? Yes."
Allen had given up hope of being elected when he fell short in 2014. He said during the summer of 2020 that he considered himself a Hall of Famer because the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum honored him in '18.
Allen died on Dec. 7, 2020, the day the Golden Days Era Committee had been scheduled to announce its latest vote, except the Hall postponed the vote one year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Golden Days Era Committee will next consider candidates in 2026, for the '27 induction year.