Perspective: On Dick Allen
Unfortunately, the most prodigious power hitter in the history of the Phillies, with all due respect to Mike Schmidt and Ryan Howard, has passed away before his likely election into MLB’s Hall of Fame. Regrettably, he played for the last team to integrate during the Civil Rights movement, was underappreciated and under- compensated.
The image of Richard Anthony Allen at the plate was unforgettable. It has been said that when Allen connected with his 42 oz. war club, the baseball cried! Spectators who blinked when he swung would swear that he had used a golf club.
Personally, my greatest regret today is that I didn’t think in the moment of attempting to report and help document one of his mammoth moon shots at Connie Mack Stadium. I witnessed many games from the first base grandstand area. I got hooked on Allen the night that he smashed a line drive that Reds shortstop Leo Cardenas almost speared leaping.
When the ball reached left center field, it began to rise like a golf ball and landed in the left centerfield upper deck!
I used to park my car in a dirt parking lot behind left field. The lot accommodated about 50 cars. I befriended the two young attendants who pointed out to me several broken windows of vacant apartment buildings that Allen smashed with a few of the 18 homers that he hit on or over the roof of the stadium.
One night, Allen powered a rocket to dead left that easily cleared the roof three-quarters of the way up a light standard, still rising! I could not wait for the game to end to question the two attendants who listened to the game on transistor radios. They showed me the ball they retrieved at the far end of the lot that bounced off the top of a closed ticket booth.
I happened to have with me either a Phillies yearbook or media guide that furnished the depths of the left field seats and concourse area.
I joined the two attendants in marking off the distance from the ticket booth to the exterior wall. We added the distances from home plate to the left field wall, seating and concourse areas to the distance we paced off.
Give or take a margin of error of 20 feet, we estimated that the drive traveled 625 feet on the fly!
Naturally, nobody knows this but me and whoever those fellows were that night when I was blessed to witness possibly the longest home run ever hit in the Majors. Thereafter, I was forever convinced of the greatness of Dick Allen. Rest in peace No. 15. We will never forget you.