Saturday, June 6, 2015
Dick Allen custom as 1977 A's
I pretty much "missed" Dick Allen's entire playing career.
By the time he came to the majors in 1963 I was no longer following baseball, and by the time I got back into the game in the very late 1970s (watching the Braves and Cubs on the cable superstations),
Allen was gone from the scene.
During the run-up to the December, 2014, vote for candidates from the "Golden Era," 1947-72, I caught a few pieces on television about Dick Allen, his legacy and his candidacy. I was surprised and disappointed when he came up one vote short for enshrinement.
I can't intelligently parse the arguments for or against Allen's joining the game's elite in Cooperstown, nor can I assess the impact his playing-days image as -- shall we say -- a non-conformist has had on his rejection by HoF voters.
Among the things I learned from those largely-promotional TV segments was that Allen closed out his career playing the 1977 season for the Oakland A's. I'd guess my ignorance of that stemmed from the fact that I could not recall seeing any Dick Allen baseball cards with the A's.
There's a good reason for that. Topps did not issue a Dick Allen card in 1977. He'd been granted free agency by the Phillies in November, 1976. He didn't catch on with the A's until March 13, 1977. By that time Topps had long since completed printing its 1977 baseball card issue.
Theoretically, Topps could have issued a 1978 Dick Allen card, since he did officially draw his release from Oakland until March 28, 1978. The gum company, however, must have known Allen was through before they finalized their 1978 checklist,
When I determined to create a Dick Allen/A's custom card, I felt I could logically choose either the 1977 or the 1978 format.
After a false start at making it 1978, I opted to move ahead with the 1977 format, I won't rule out ever doing a '78 "career wrap-up" Allen card, but suitable pictures of him in an A's uniform are not plentiful, so I'll hold out unless or until something catches my eye.
As I've been reading 1964 and 1965 issues of The Sporting News, I'm starting to see Allen's name more often.
Another thing I had not known about Allen is that the Phils' release of Frank Thomas in July, 1965, was precipitated by an on-field fight with Allen. If I recall the TSN account correctly, Allen, tired of Thomas' hazing him and calling him "boy," poked the veteran in the chest and Thomas retaliated by hitting Allen in the shoulder with a bat. In the aftermath, Allen missed a handful of games with a sore shoulder and Thomas was sold to the Astros.