Tuesday, January 14, 2014

MISSING IN ACTION- 1978 DICK ALLEN

I don't know why it never dawned on me before, but not only was Dick Allen missing from the 1977 Topps set, but he should also have been included in the awesome 1978 set.
Looking back, we see that Allen was released by Oakland in March of 1978, well after Topps would have had their cards produced for the new season.
And it's not like Allen didn't play at all in '77. He did manage to get into 54 games, good for 200 plate appearances. Lord knows Topps had a few players with less playing time slotted in that '78 set!
It really is strange since Allen was such a key player in the decade, a former Most Valuable Player, and still somewhat of a viable player considering so many of the other light-hitting/bad fielding guys getting into every set of the '70's!
Take a look at my "missing" 1978 Dick Allen card:

The "Wampum Walloper" in Oakland.

I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Dick Allen, even as a kid before I knew of all the controversy surrounding the lightening rod of a personality that the "Wampum Warrior" was throughout his career.
Sounds absurd, but it started way back in 1976 when my cousin (who was a few years older and got me into collecting cards) kept joking about the name "Dick Allen". Really makes no sense now, but it had us in stitches all day long, and ever since then I was hooked on this guy with the funny name and killer stats.
Allen certainly didn't make many friends during his days on the diamond, but no one can take away from what he accomplished as a major leaguer: Rookie of the Year in 1964, Most Valuable Player in 1972, near Triple Crown that year, and leading his league in twelve statistical categories over his career.
It's easy to overlook the fact that in only 6332 career at-bats the man had 351 homers, 1119 runs batted in and 1848 hits.
To put that in perspective, Hank Aaron had almost DOUBLE the career at-bats as Allen. 
Now, I'm not trying to say that Allen could have been as consistent as Aaron was throughout his career, but it IS amazing to see what Allen accomplished at the plate in 6000+ at-bats.
The man was a force when he was healthy, but sadly, he just couldn't sustain it over the course of a nice, long, FULL career.

PS- I know it's a little bit of a tangent here, but it IS amazing to remember that Babe Ruth hit 714 home runs in 8399 at-bats, compared to the 755 home runs Aaron hit in 12364 at-bats!
Think about it: Aaron had HALF of Ruth's career MORE at-bats!
Babe Ruth=MONSTER at the plate (and no slouch on the mound either!)
Incredible…

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