August 21, 2002
I was (and still am) watching the Yankees/Angels game on the YES Network this afternoon (as I write this, the score is 1-1 in the 6th).
The announcers for the game are Michael Kay (play-by-play) and Jim Kaat (color).
Something Jim Kaat (whom I really like as an announcer) said really got my attention.
While making small talk, Kay asked Kaat if he ever "hung out with" any hitters when he played.
Kaat quickly said that, yes, he often hung out with the catchers.
Kay then asked Kaat if he ever hung with any hitters that were not catchers.
Kaat's response? "Hmmm...let me think about that..."
And he literally did. The 3rd out of the inning was made and they went to commercial as Kay said, "and Jim will get the next half inning to think..."
When they came back from commercial Kaat was ready with his answer...
"The hitter I hung out with the most was probably Dick Allen. . .great teammate, great player. . .we shared an interest in horses. . .when we were in Cincinnati we went to see Secretariat. . .he was a delight to play with because he learned under Gene Mauch and he loved to play the game the right way. . .he was great to be around. . .his nickname was "Mose" because he was the Moses that led the White Sox out of the wilderness."
I am too young to have seen Dick Allen play (in fact he retired 7 years before I was born) so all I know about him is what I have read.
After digging around my room for a while (see what I do for you people!) I found the book I was looking for:
Bill James' Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame?
Here is what James had to say about Dick Allen:
"[Allen] did more to keep his teams from winning than anybody else who ever played major league baseball. And if that's a Hall of Famer, I'm a lug nut."
I've never met Bill James in person, so I am not sure if he is, in fact, a lugnut.
James also said:
"Allen never did anything to help his teams win, and in fact spent his entire career doing everything he possible could to keep his teams from winning."
"Allen was a jerk."
There was an interesting thread going over at BaseballPrimer.com a while ago about Dick Allen.
Don Malcolm (from BigBadBaseball.com) wrote a piece entitled "The Man on the Outside Looking In," about Dick Allen's Hall of Fame credentials.
A few quotes from Malcom's piece:
"Dick Allen is the only player being kept out of the Hall due to something people think he did. In Dick's case, that would more accurately be phrased "something people think he is.""
"Such an occurrence is definitely a form of discrimination, but it's still something that can be rectified. Everyone knows that Dick Allen was a great hitter; there's just all that other baggage that they're afraid to open. One gets the impression that everyone is worried that if he were to be up on the dais at Cooperstown, he'd expose himself or something. The whole thing would be funny if it weren't so sad."
So, having not been alive when Allen was playing and having read such things about him as James' book and Malcolm's piece, you can see where I could be a little surprised at what I heard Jim Kaat say about him this afternoon.
James also said this about Allen:
"As time passes, the evaluation of a player comes to rest more and more on his statistics. There is a simple reason for this, which is that everything else tends to be forgotten. His statistics remain the exactly the same, and eventuall the statistics become the central part of the player's image."
That quote basically sums up my feelings about Dick Allen and his Hall of Fame credentials.
I never saw him play and, although I have read things about his personality, the thing I look at the most are his stats.
And let me you, if you didn't know already, Dick Allen could flat out hit.
He ranks 20th all-time in career Adjusted OPS+, tied with Willie Mays and ahead of guys like Hank Aaron, Joe DiMaggio, Frank Robinson, Ralph Kiner, Mike Schmidt, Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell, Harmon Killebrew and a lot of other great hitters.
Just like Tim Raines, Dick Allen belongs in the Hall of Fame.