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1972 AL MVP Dick Allen dies at 78 years old

Allen was perhaps the most likely player to be elected to the Hall of Fame Sunday if this year’s veterans committee vote hadn’t been postponed.

Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies Getty Images

Dick Allen, a legendary slugger who starred for the Phillies, Cardinals, Dodgers, White Sox, and Athletics over a 15-year major-league career, died Monday at the age of 78. Allen’s family made the announcement from his Twitter account:

Allen debuted with the Phillies late in the 1963 season but retained his rookie eligibility in 1964, when he won the NL Rookie of the Year Award after hitting .318/.382/.557 with 29 homers, 91 RBI, and a majors-leading 13 triples. He hit 20 or more homers in nine straight seasons from 1964-72, and after hitting 16 during an injury-shortened 1973 season, he bounced back to hit an AL-leading 32 in 1974. He was a seven-time All-Star, leading his league in homers in 1972 (37) and ‘74 (32), in RBI (113) and walks (99) in ‘72, in OBP in 1967 (.404) and ‘72 (.420), in slugging percentage in 1966 (.632), ‘72 (.603), and ‘74 (.563), and in OPS in 1966 (1.027), 1967 (.970), 1972 (1.023), and 1974 (.938).

Allen’s accomplishments are even more impressive when you consider that he spent the early part of his career being relentlessly harassed and abused by Phillies fans. Allen, the Phillies’ first black superstar, was unpopular in a city that was still very racially divided at the time, and as a result he faced physical abuse so consistent that he had to wear a batting helmet in the field to protect himself.

Aside from players such as Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens who have been left out of the Hall for character reasons, Allen is widely regarded as the best player who is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He never received more than 18.9% of the BBWAA vote over 14 years on the writers’ ballot, and he fell one vote short of being elected by the Golden Era Committee in 2014. He was a strong candidate to be elected by the Golden Days Committee at this year’s Winter Meetings, but that vote was postponed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.