Womack: What did Dick Allen’s teammates really think of the controversial slugger?

From SABR member Graham Womack at The Sporting News on December 15, 2015, with mention of SABR member Bill James:

There’s this popular narrative about Dick Allen, shaped by people like baseball historian Bill James and other writers. The narrative goes something like this: Embittered by his experiences with racism as a minor leaguer in Little Rock, Ark., and breaking in with the Phillies in the early 1960s, Dick Allen became standoffish, selfish and alcoholic. He clashed with a number of managers. He missed his full potential, finishing his career at age 35 with 351 home runs. That’s the narrative on Dick Allen, or at least what I understand it to be.

James has been a particularly vocal critic, writing in his book “The Politics of Glory” in 1994, “Allen never did anything to help his teams win, and in fact spent his entire career doing everything he possibly could to keep his teams from winning.” James made a number of outrageous claims over the space of a couple of pages, such as that every team Allen played for eventually devolved into pro-Dick Allen and anti-Dick Allen factions.

James’ assessment reads as if it was made without talking to any of Allen’s teammates. I like James, and he’s inspired me as a baseball historian and researcher, though I have to be honest: His work sometimes reads as if it was hastily done to meet book deadlines. It’s not that difficult to find retired ballplayers, many of whom have listed phone numbers and enjoy talking about the old days. All it takes is time and a willingness to listen.

Read the full article here: http://www.sportingnews.com/mlb-news/4688087-baseball-hall-of-fame-dick-allen-phillies-white-sox

Originally published: December 15, 2015. Last Updated: December 15, 2015.