Inside the Phillies: Allen gets snubbed by Hall ballot

Former Phillies slugger Dick Allen was left off the Hall of Fame's Golden Era ballot. He hit 351 homers over 15 seasons.
Former Phillies slugger Dick Allen was left off the Hall of Fame's Golden Era ballot. He hit 351 homers over 15 seasons. (File Photograph)
Posted: November 04, 2011

I do not think Dick Allen belongs in the baseball Hall of Fame.

I'm quite sure, however, that the Wampum Walloper belongs among the candidates listed on the Golden Era ballot that was released Thursday by the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

And, yet, the list of players and executives selected from the era between 1947 and 1972 did not include the Phillies' first African-American star.

Five position players - Ron Santo, Ken Boyer, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva and Gil Hodges - three pitchers - Jim Kaat, Luis Tiant and Allie Reynolds - and two executives - Buzzie Bavasi and Charlie Finley - were among the candidates selected by a Historical Overview Committee that was comprised of 11 members from the Baseball Writers Association of America.

At a Phillies function during the team's alumni weekend this summer, Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning became testy when asked about whether Allen, 69, belonged in the Hall of Fame.

"Don't talk to me about the veterans committee," he said. "The veterans committee doesn't have anything to do with who goes in and who doesn't, because the sportswriters pick the people who go on the ballot. So until the veterans committee picks the ballot, we're never going to get the 75 percent."

Technically, there is no veterans committee any more, but a 16-man panel, which consists of former players, managers, executives and BBWAA members, will vote on the Golden Era ballot at the winter meetings next month in Dallas. Candidates will need to receive at least 12 of the 16 votes to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Former Phillies general manager Pat Gillick was inducted into the Hall of Fame earlier this year after a similar vote last December.

Bunning, known for being a curmudgeon to even some of his closest friends, makes a solid point in this matter. Maybe it is time for sportswriters to recuse ourselves from the Hall of Fame process. I was not part of the team that put together this Golden Era ballot, but I have been part of the regular Hall of Fame voting since 1999.

If Hall of Fame players like Bunning think they can do a better job, let them have at it. Some of my colleagues would argue that nobody can be more objective than sportswriters, who have nothing to lose or gain from these Hall of Fame elections.

I suspect that Bunning and his fellow Hall of Famers would get some wrong, too. There may also be some political alliances that form. But who cares?

"I think the sportswriters failed all the guys that are worthy of going into the Hall of Fame because they choose who they want," Bunning said. "We don't have anything to do with who's on the ballot."

I know a lot of people on these committees, and I know they work hard to try to get things right. They did not in Allen's case.

"His name was brought up," said Rick Hummel, a longtime writer for the St. Louis Post Dispatch and a member of the 11-man BBWAA committee. "I'm not allowed to talk about too many specifics, but it was discussed at some length. It wasn't like he was ignored. From a personal standpoint, I think I helped him get a lot of attention."

Not enough obviously, but you can't blame a man for trying.

If you compare Allen's career to the five position players on the Golden Era ballot, he is arguably the most qualified candidate. Hodges is probably the one player that might be more deserving.

Allen, Santo and Boyer all played 15 seasons in the big leagues. Allen hit for a higher average (.292), had more home runs (351) and had a higher OPS (.902) - on-base plus slugging percentage - than either Santo or Boyer. In fact, he had a better OPS than any of the players on the Golden Era ballot, and that counts for a lot in this new age of baseball.

One of the criteria the Golden Era committee considered in putting together the ballot was how much support a player received when he was still eligible to be voted in by the more than 700 BBWAA members who annually vote for eligible Hall of Fame candidates.

A player is eligible five years after he retires and can remain on the ballot for 15 years. In order to be elected, he must receive 75 percent of the vote. Allen never received more than 18.9 percent in a given year. The five guys on the Golden Era ballot all received more support from the writers during their 15 years on the ballot.

That brings up another point. Bunning obviously isn't alone in his belief that the sportswriters do not always get it right or there would be no need for these special committees to vote on guys who did not make it to the Hall of Fame in the conventional way. That's also another reason for the sportswriters to graciously bow out of the process.

Dick Allen does not belong in the Hall of Fame, and I doubt it would make him feel any better to simply be placed on something called the Golden Era ballot.


Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at bbrookover@phillynews.com or @brookob on Twitter.

Staff writer Matt Breen contributed to this article.

 

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