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August 23, 2018

Widely regarded as one of the best players not in the Baseball Hall of Fame, Dick Allen may not have a HOF bust but he does get the moniker of savior for the Chicago White Sox.

Allen entered the league with the Philadelphia Phillies and became an immediate impact player. In his first full season with the team, Allen earned NL Rookie of the Year honors while batting .318 (BA), slugging 29 HRs and collecting 91 RBI. Allen would also place seventh in NL MVP voting (Baseball Reference). The prolific young talent would earn three All-Star awards, including a .317/40 HR/110 RBI slash line in 1966.

As talented as Allen was with the Phillies, off the field concerns became an issue. In 1965, Allen would get into a fistfight with fellow teammate Frank Thomas and received both verbal and physical abuse from fans. This onslaught of attacks lead Allen to wear his helmet while playing his position in the field, giving him the nickname of "Crash."

After a tumultuous tenure with the Phillies, Allen was traded in 1970 to the St. Louis Cardinals. Allen put the controversy from his Phillies tenure behind him and earned his fourth All-Star award. Despite his success, Allen would be traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers and failed to garner any All-Star or MVP consideration.

That's when the narrative of Allen's career took a turn from villain to savior. In 1972, Allen joined a White Sox team that appeared to be on the verge of leaving town. White Sox home attendance was less than 500,000 in 1970 and less than 850,000 in '71 (Chicago Tribune). Allen's offense helped turn around a franchise in peril as he earned an All-Star nod along with taking home the AL MVP award after batting .308/37 HR/113 RBI.

He put himself in the history books by launching a HR into Comiskey Park's center field bleachers, a blast that was estimated to travel over 440 feet. The home run put Allen in an elite conversation, becoming only the fourth man to launch a ball into the CF bleachers at Comiskey Park. Also included in Allen's MVP season was the infamous "chili dog homer" and a game in which he scored on two inside-the-park HRs in the same game.

Allen would earn two additional All-Star nods before eventually making a return to Philadelphia in 1975. A final season for the Oakland Athletics in 1977 saw the 35 year old appear in just 54 games.

All in all, Allen would be a 7 All-Star, 1972 AL MVP and took home NL Rookie of the Year in 1964.


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