After Doc, whose number will Phils retire next?

April 9th, 2020

PHILADELPHIA -- Almost every Phillies fan who watched play in the 1960s and ‘70s believes he should be in the Hall of Fame.

They aren’t alone.

“Richie Allen was -- and still is -- a Hall of Famer as far as I’m concerned,” Willie Mays once told MLB Network.

Allen never got serious consideration from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, inexplicably dropping off the ballot after just one year in 1983. He then fell one vote short of election in 2014, when the Golden Days Committee met. Allen was a controversial figure when he played, which might be why he is not in Cooperstown, N.Y. But he gets another crack at the Hall this December, when the Golden Days Committee reconvenes.

He should make it. Allen slashed .292/.378/.534 with 351 home runs, 1,119 RBIs, a .912 OPS and a 156 OPS+ in a 15-year career with the Phillies, Cardinals, Dodgers, White Sox and A’s. He won the 1972 American League Most Valuable Player Award. He earned MVP Award votes in six other seasons. He won the '64 National League Rookie of the Year Award. He made seven All-Star teams, including three with the Phillies. From '64-74, he posted a 58.3 WAR, according to Baseball Reference. It tied Mays for sixth place among position players in that 11-year span, behind 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 name needs to appear on 12 of 16 Golden Days ballots for enshrinement. If he gets 12, it should answer a question that Phillies fans have pondered for the past few years: Who is the next player to have his number retired by the team?

The organization planned to retire 's No. 34 with a pregame ceremony on May 29, the 10th anniversary of his perfect game in Miami. It will not happen because of the coronavirus pandemic, but it will happen at some point. Halladay will be the seventh player to have his number retired by the Phillies. (No. 1), (No. 14), (No. 20), (No. 32), (No. 36) and Jackie Robinson (No. 42) are the others.

Allen (No. 15) presumably would be the eighth.

But who comes after that? The Phillies have an unwritten policy that they only retire numbers of players that put a Phillies logo on their Hall of Fame plaque in Cooperstown. (The organization made an exception for Halladay, who entered the Hall of Fame last summer without a logo on his plaque.) It is a policy that developed in the 1990s, according to a story in The Athletic in December, in part because Del Ennis' family, friends and fans kept pressuring the Phillies to retire his No. 14. Ennis had a nice career and grew up in Philadelphia, but he did not reach number-retirement standards.

and/or could follow Allen, if he makes it and they make it, but Schilling (Red Sox) and Rolen (Cardinals) could put another team’s logo on their plaque -- even though they played longer in Philadelphia than they played elsewhere.

But here is where things get interesting: The team’s Hall of Fame-only policy might prevent the Phillies from honoring three of the greatest and most popular players in franchise history, thereby preventing them from honoring a single player from their 2008 World Series championship team and arguably the greatest era in franchise history.

(No. 11), (No. 26) and (No. 6) are the greatest shortstop, second baseman and first baseman in franchise history, respectively. They had longer and more impactful stints in Philadelphia than Bunning (he spent only four prime years with the Phillies) and Halladay (he spent only two prime years with them). Rollins, Utley and Howard are all so revered that the Phillies have not issued their numbers since they left the organization. Meanwhile, Tim Worrell, Kyle Kendrick, Chad Billingsley, Andrew Bailey and Jorge Alfaro have worn Schilling’s No. 38 since he left in 2000, and bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer, Reid Brignac, Brian Bogusevic, Peter Bourjos, Pat Neshek and Rhys Hoskins have worn Rolen’s No. 17 since he left in '02.

Rollins (2022) and Utley ('24) should receive Hall of Fame consideration when they appear on the ballot, but they are not locks. There is no guarantee they make it.

“Having your jersey retired is probably the highest honors you can get from an organization,” Utley told The Athletic. “I think we’re all aware of the policies that they’ve had in place for years now. I get it. I totally understand that perspective. I don’t think Jimmy, nor myself nor Ryan expect them to change that policy just for us. We had a great time here. We have a lot of amazing memories. But those memories will never be forgotten, whether our jerseys are retired or not.”

But it sure would be nice.

“Of course,” Utley said. “Yeah. One day. You never know.”