On Sunday July 26, the National Baseball Hall Of Fame inducted four players in their Hall Of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. The last few days I have been watching the Major League Baseball Network and their promotion for the Hall Of Fame televised event. The faces of inductees Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio appeared numerous times throughout their promotions.
When I saw that, It made my stomach boil, knowing that former Phillies slugger Dick Allen failed to be elected by one vote as part of the Golden Era Ballot. As administrator of the Dick Allen Belongs In The Hall of Fame Campaign Staff, I felt the disappointment of the people who volunteered their time to prove that Dick Allen is indeed a Hall of Fame Player.
One man who stood behind us and wrote many columns and, as he said, “crossed The journalistic line,” by publicly coming out both stating and writing that he personally took part in the campaign. When he mentioned the campaign he said; WE did this or WE should have done that. The late Stan Hochman did what no other writer in the history of baseball ever did and that was to support a player without caring about what his peers may think.
Why did he do this? Because he truly believed that Dick Allen has been overlooked for years in the Hall of Fame balloting and now should have been the time to put him in. Stan wrote a column on what had transpired out in San Diego where the voting took place in early December of 2014. He interviewed Phillies Hall of Famer and former Dick Allen teammate Jim Bunning. Bunning discussed the voting process and said he felt useless in Stan’s February 4 ,2015 column. He said he got to talk for five minutes in support of Allen.
Stan described the process as “clumsy, tainted and ill-conceived and a process that’s not pretty which helps explain why players from the 1960’s and ’70’s have drawn a blank since a Veterans Committee choose Bill Mazeroski in 2001.”
The one factor that many believe left both Allen and former Minnesota Twins star Tony Oliva, who also received 11 votes, off the ballot was that former MLB player Bob Watson, who was on the voting committee but was replaced at the last minute by Dave Dombrowski.
Bunning said: “Bob Watson didn’t make it. They never told us why. If he’d been there. it might have made a difference for two guys.”
Bunning continued to say: “To me we wasted a weekend. We were there to pick someone for the Hall of Fame and we didn’t accomplish anything.”
As part of Stan’s story on Jim Bunning’s experience, he was going to try and get the answers to some questions that he had about the process, but unfortunately the iconic writer passed away. The questions he intended to ask were:
1. Who chooses the candidates?
2. Who chooses the voters and what criteria is used?
3. Why include writers on the voting panel when the committee is supposedly designed to judge players the writers rejected for 15 years?
4. Why tell the voters they can only vote for as many as four candidates, why not six, eight or ten?
5. How much influence did statistical guru Bill James, someone who wrote that Allen “lost half of his career or more to immaturity and emotional instability,” have on the vote?
6. Didn’t James name Allen the best player in baseball in 1964 and again in 1972 and isn’t Allen the only one named twice in those 8 years not in the Hall of Fame?
7. How come Mike Schmidt can find time to support Pete Rose for a spot in the Hall of Fame but was silent when asked about Allen?
8. How come Ruly Carpenter endorsed Allen’s candidacy while the current Phillies ownership was silent?
Well, along with Stan, Dick Allen Jr. who traveled to San Diego along with myself and a few other Allen supporters, we would love to know the answers to those questions. Hopefully in the future someone will step out of the box like Stan did and find those answers.
Beyond those questions there are other worthy points in support of Dick Allen. The main one being all of the abuse he took from the time he stepped off an airplane in Tampa, Florida for his first Spring Training where he was subject to segregation for the first time.
The abuse he took in Little Rock, Arkansas and the horrible treatment by the fans of Philadelphia after the infamous fight with Frank Thomas. No one should be subject to having their home threatened to being burned down, car tires slashed, life threatened, objects thrown along with racial epithets that make a sailor seem like a choir boy.
But Dick Allen persevered and played at a very high and Hall of Fame level.
Yes, I was in San Diego and I asked the writers and other members of the media: “Could you do your job with all of those distractions?” They looked at me like I was out of my mind. No, I was not out of my mind. The flat out answer is NO THEY COULD NOT! They all nodded in agreement.