This Day in Baseball History: June 24th, 1969

What’s your opinion of the big man?

On June 24, 1969:

Dick Allen wass suspended for missing the night’s doubleheader.

Dick Allen is one of the most controversial players in major-league history. He was the first black player in Philadelphia, and from his debut in 1963, he faced racial discrimination. Even his teammates didn’t always like having a black player on the team. Frank Thomas (no, not that one) often made derisive remarks toward Allen that eventually ended with a fight and Thomas swinging a bat at Allen. The fans were almost worse as they shouted obscenities, and when that didn’t work, they threw things at Allen forcing him to wear a helmet even to play the field.

On June 24, 1969, he had another incident. Allen went to watch some horse races in the morning, but on his way back for the night’s doubleheader, he got stuck in traffic. He didn’t make either game. Manager Bob Skinner suspended him indefinitely and fined him $2,500 for the incident. Allen wouldn’t play again until July 20th. Maybe it was too strict. He didn’t try to miss the game, and it wasn’t really his fault. A month seems a bit excessive. However, you have a job to do, and maybe Skinner just wanted to make an example of him. Either way, Allen demanded a trade. The resulting trade ended up being controversial as well when Curt Flood, the man in return for Allen, refused to report to Philadelphia and went on to challenge the reserve clause as a result.

Even disregarding the off-the-field events, Allen’s playing career is a controversy as well. Known for towering home runs and less-than-desirable defense, Allen is a borderline Hall of Famer. He bashed 351 home runs in his career with a line of .292/.378/.534 (good for a 154 OPS+). Allen won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1964 after one of the most impressive rookie seasons ever, and he won an MVP Award in 1972. The slugger would also play in 7 All-Star Games. Finally, his career seemed to end in a controversy when he walked out on the White Sox in 1974. He retired after being traded to the Atlanta Braves, but the Philadelphia Phillies were able to bring him back out of retirement.

So what do I think of Dick Allen? Well, that will have to wait for a few days.

Trivia Time
Who said, “Now I know why they boo Richie all the time. When he hits a home run, there’s no souvenir.”?

Yesterday’s Answer –> Jay Buhner


One Response to “This Day in Baseball History: June 24th, 1969”

  1. Ian Says:

    I've long believed Dick Allen belongs in the Hall of Fame. His defense may not have been very good, but he made up for it with his offense. He wasn't the first black player for the Phillies though. That would be John Kennedy in 1957.

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