NLBM's Kendrick on Allen 'Hall of Game' nod

December 8th, 2020

NEW YORK -- Negro Leagues Baseball Museum president Bob Kendrick was preparing the reopening of the museum when he received word that Dick Allen passed away on Monday at the age of 78.

“That one hits home. It hurts,” said Kendrick, who knew Allen had been ill.

Kendrick reflected back to 2018 when the NLBM inducted Allen into the “Hall of Game,” an honor given to standout former Major League players. While Allen never played in the Negro Leagues, Kendrick said he played with passion, great skill and flare just like the players in the Negro Leagues.

“Each year we recognize someone who we believe embodies that spirit and style of the Negro Leagues,” Kendrick said. “[Allen] was ecstatic. With all sincerity, during his induction ceremony, he said the honor was his Hall of Fame moment. Obviously, there are a lot of people who believe he belongs in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

“When he officially became a part of Negro Leagues lore with his induction into the Hall of Game, it meant the world to him. It meant the world to us.”

Allen played 15 years (1963-77) in Major League Baseball, mostly with the Phillies and White Sox, made seven All-Star appearances and won the American League Most Valuable Player Award in '72. That year, Allen led the league in home runs (37), RBIs (113) and OPS (1.023). He ended his career with a .292 average, 351 home runs and 1,119 RBIs.

Kendrick heard the stories about how far Allen hit balls out of the ballpark, but he was amazed to learn that Allen was not a big guy. He was only 5-foot-11 and weighed less than 200 pounds.

“He swung a 40-ounce bat, so he was right out of the Negro Leagues,” Kendrick said. “There is no question about that.”