Saturday, April 22, 2017

Review of "Dick Allen, The Life and Times of a Baseball Immortal"

Dick Allen was a player whom I remembered as someone who would hit a home run against the Twins every time I watched a Twins-White Sox game when I was a kid.  I did know that he was also a star in Philadelphia, but those majestic shots he hit in a White Sox uniform was what I remembered about him.  So, when I saw this book offered on NetGalley I picked it up to learn more about the man.  Here is my review of the latest biography written about him.

“Dick Allen, The Life and Times of a Baseball Immortal: An Illustrated Biography” by William C. Kashatus

Baseball, biography, Phillies, White Sox

Publish date:
May 28, 2017

288 pages

3 of 5 stars (okay)

Baseball has had many players through the years whose talent would be overshadowed by some type of controversy, be it bad press, a bad personality or maybe just bad luck.  One of these players was Dick Allen, who played primarily with the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago White Sox between 1964 and 1976, with stops in Los Angeles (Dodgers) and St. Louis along the way.  His story and career is captured in this biography by long time Philadelphia writer William C. Kashatus.

The book follows the tried-and-true format for a sports biography by writing about Allen’s childhood in which his father was gone for long periods of time but when he was around, the moments were special for Dick.  His mother ran a strict house and that helped Dick concentrate on baseball.  When he signed with the Phillies (who subsequently called him “Richie” on rosters and press releases) he had his first exposure to racism and discrimination when he played in Little Rock, Arkansas.  That brought a profound awareness to him on the civil rights movement and his views were note always popular with the media or the fans in Philadelphia, a city that was having its own problems with race riots in 1964.

Throughout the book, Allen is portrayed in a sympathetic light, explaining that many of the accusations made through the press are countered by either teammates, his manager or other personnel associated with the teams.  This was the case not only with the Phillies but also with the Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago White Sox, the other teams for whom Allen played in his career.  He enjoyed the best success in Chicago where twice he led the American League in home runs and was the league’s Most Valuable Player in 1972.  He then went back to the Phillies after expressing his desire to “retire” after the 1974 season.

After writing about Allen’s post-baseball life, Kashatus devotes the last chapter to making a pitch for Allen to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He uses today’s advanced statistics to make a favorable case for Allen that from strictly numbers, looks favorable when compared to legendary players who are already enshrined such as Harmon Killebrew.  It is the author’s belief that Allen has been kept out because of the media’s negative feelings toward him, both in the past and present.  This is a section that is one that is best left for the readers to make that judgement for themselves.

This is the second book on two years written about Allen and this one shows the player in a very favorable light.  If a reader was a fan of Dick Allen during his career, then this will one to add to his or her library.

I wish to thank Schiffer Publishing for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Format Read:
E-book (PDF)

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