Mains/Searle: The summer of ’69: baseball 50 years ago

From SABR member Rob Mains and Ginny Searle at Baseball Prospectus on November 4, 2019:

Last week, we started a retrospective of our review of the 1969 season. We’ll continue it this week and wrap it up next week. 

Reggie Jackson (hit two homers in 6-4 win over the Senators with President Richard Nixon in attendance on June 18, after which he said, “Everyone knows who the President is. I wanted the President to know who Reggie Jackson is,” week ending June 23): He’d have 37 home runs at the All-Star break, shattering Roger Maris’s record of 33 in 1961. (Washington’s Frank Howard had 34, also breaking the record.) The only player to have more in the first half of the season was Barry Bonds, with 39 in 2001. He hit only ten more the rest of the season, but, of course, went on to have one of the more storied careers in baseball history.

Dick Allen (indefinitely suspended after missing a June 24 game in New York, week ending June 30: Allen’s suspension was the climax of a tumultuous six-plus year tenure in Philadelphia, during which he was one of the league’s best players (33.4 WARP) but had consistent off-field issues distract from his excellence. It should be mentioned that Philadelphia had a checkered history as one of the league’s most racially intolerant atmospheres and Allen had earlier in his career spoken of the effects of racism to his play and wellbeing. After scrawling messages in the dirt for much of his last half-season with the Phillies and playing a decisive role in manager Bob Skinner’s resignation, Allen was embroiled in an entirely different controversy when he was traded to the Cardinals for a package including Curt Flood, who would of course not play for Philadelphia (or at all) the next season. The back half of the slugger’s career, which included an MVP for the 1972 White Sox, had much less controversy—though not none, as he did kinda-sorta retire and then went back on his decision—as he played for four more clubs (and spent 1975-6 again in Philadelphia), finishing his career with 351 home runs and a .912 OPS.

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Originally published: November 4, 2019. Last Updated: November 4, 2019.