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Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday…Dick Allen

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He played first and third base and outfield in Major League Baseball and ranked among his sport’s top offensive producers of the 1960s and early 1970s. Most notably playing for the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago White Sox, he led the American League in home runs twice, and led both leagues in slugging average (the AL twice) and on-base percentage. His .534 career slugging average ranks among the highest in an era marked by low averages. He won the 1964 National League Rookie of the Year and 1972 AL MVP. He also spoke his mind, combatted racism, and bucked organizational hierarchy. Sabermetrician Bill James rated Dick Allen as the second-most controversial player in baseball history, behind Rogers Hornsby.

Before scientific weight training, muscle-building dietary supplements, and anabolic steroids, Allen boasted a powerful and muscular physique along the lines of Mickey Mantle and Jimmie Foxx. Indeed, baseball historian Bill Jenkinson ranks Allen with Foxx and Mantle, and just a notch below Babe Ruth, as the four top long-distance sluggers ever to wield a baseball bat.[2] A segment of MLB Network’s Prime 9 concurred with Jenkinson’s findings. On that same broadcast, Willie Mays stated that Allen hit a ball harder than any player he had ever seen. Dick Allen, like Babe Ruth, hit with a rather heavy bat. Allen’s 40-ouncer bucked the Ted Williams-inspired trend of using a light bat for increased bat speed. Allen combined massive strength and body torque to produce bat speed and drive the ball. 18 of his drives cleared Connie Mack Stadium’s 65-foot-high left field Grandstand.[2] Twice Allen cleared that park’s 65-foot-high right center field scoreboard: a feat considered virtually impossible for a right-handed hitter.

Smallthoughts:OLd School Tuesday salutes …Dick Allen

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