Chicago White Sox legend Dick Allen dies at 78
Former White Sox first baseman Dick Allen died Monday at his home in Pennsylvania, his family announced on his Twitter account. He was 78.
"With sadness in our hearts, we need to share that Dick passed away this afternoon at his home in Wampum," the tweet read.
Allen played 15 major-league seasons with the Phillies (1963-69, 1975-76), Cardinals (1970), Dodgers (1971), White Sox (1972-74) and Athletics (1977).
A seven-time all-star, Allen was voted American League MVP in 1972 when he batted .308/.420/.603 with 37 home runs and 113 RBI while leading the Sox to an 87-67 record and second-place finish in the AL West.
Allen led the league in homers, RBI and OPS that season while becoming the second player in franchise history to garner MVP honors. Nellie Fox was the White Sox's first MVP, in 1959.
Bill Melton was Allen's Sox teammate for three years, and the two recently talked.
"Thank God, I finally got a hold of him about a week ago," Melton said. "We spent about a half-hour on the phone. Dick, he chuckles a lot. He never told me what was wrong with him. I just heard from a writer who did his book, he was struggling in the hospital, you've got to call Willa (Allen's wife).
"Willa put me through to him right away. Dick's not going to talk to everybody, but it was nice we had a chance to talk. We chuckled about some stories, and he never uttered once about his condition. I just found out today that he passed from cancer. He refused to take the chemo the second time around. For me, it was typical Dick Allen, 'I've had enough.' And when he has enough, he moves on."
Allen finished his career .292 with 351 home runs and 1,119 RBI.
The right-handed slugger was the 1964 National League Rookie of the Year after batting .318, hitting 29 homers and driving in 91 runs for Philadelphia.
Allen was expected to be inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Golden Days Committee this weekend, but the vote was pushed back to next December due to the coronavirus pandemic.
After hitting 204 of his career home runs with the Phillies, Allen would likely represent Philadelphia if he does make it to Cooperstown.
"The Phillies are heartbroken over the passing today of our dear friend and co-worker, Dick Allen," the team said in a statement. "Dick will be remembered as not just one of the greatest and most popular players in our franchise's history, but also as a courageous warrior who had to overcome far too many obstacles to reach the level he did. Dick's iconic status will resonate for generations of baseball fans to come as one of the all-time greats to play America's pastime."
Known for skipping batting practice and showing up 30 minutes before first pitch, smoking cigarettes in the dugout and swinging a bat as big as a tree stump, Allen was a larger-than-life character as well as a feared hitter.
"When you watched him play, you couldn't believe what he could do," Melton said. "He could've stole 30 bases if he wanted. He didn't want to. He could've hit more home runs. He didn't want to. The most excited he got is when he took a line drive with that 40¾-ounce bat and hit a one-hopper to the shortstop and knocked him into left field. He would get on first base, and he would chuckle.
"Dick didn't say a lot. When he liked you, he'd come up and talk to you a little bit and that'd be about it. But he had a really unique way of setting positive things in your mind.
"In the clubhouse, he was beloved by (Pat) Kelly, Carlos May, I could go on and on. But I think we all enjoyed the three years we had with him. We obviously learned a lot about baseball, how to play in tough situations. Dick was just beloved by all of us."