Many in our community are mourning the death of Dick Allen.
Note that I am referring to him as Dick Allen because that’s what he preferred. However, those of us in the area who grew up with him all knew him as Richie (or Sleepy).
My wife and I enjoyed breakfast with Chuck Tanner one Memorial Day years ago. We talked about a great many players who I watched and who Chuck coached and managed. You could not have a conversation with Chuck without talking about Dick Allen.
I asked Chuck how he succeeded with the White Sox by having two sets of rules — one for Dick Allen and one for everybody else. He corrected me to informed me that he had 25 sets of rules because he had 25 individuals on his team. A lesson learned.
Chuck did not react well to people’s inference that Dick did not live by the rules. He explained that the popular believe that Dick was lazy was anything but the truth. For example, Chuck noted that Dick Allen would take batting practice very early in the morning when no one else was at the stadium because he could concentrate on his task without interruption. Because people didn’t see him workout, many believed that he did not work.
Perhaps the most interesting story CHuck told was about his sessions on base running. He would have Dick Allen “teach” those sessions because, one, Chuck said he never saw Dick Allen make a base-running mistake. And two, the younger players would pay more attention to Dick Allen than they would to Chuck Tanner. Another lesson learned.
Of course, I can never talk about Dick Allen without remembering a home run I saw him hit in Wampum. I am not sure it has yet to come back to earth.
I can’t think of Dick Allen without a smile. I hope the foregoing will make others smile.