Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I found this very interesting article while looking at from 1973.

Hank Allen, wearing a catcher's mitt at third base, stands with his shadow on this Saturday morning. It is batting practice time for the Chicago White Sox scrubs. The vast languor of the unopened ball-park gives way to contemplation. And one must believe that these are some of the most bittersweet days for Allen. He has been given a new life as a major-league ball-player, after having played most of last season with a semi-pro team in Maryland. He had been picked up by the White Sox and has played now past his five-year mark, which allows him a more substantial retirement pension. The White Sox, until recently had been a first-place club and were apparently fulfilling pre-season predictions of a South Side pennant. Hank Allen had never been-with a big-league contender before. This was exciting stuff, even if he took only vicarious delight from, the distant bullpen where his major contribution has been to crouch and eaten the warmup tosses of prospective relievers, and to talk it up. He also takes pride in being Dick Allen's brother and teammate.

Dick, 31, is two years younger and the 1972 Most Valuable Player in the American League. Hank, whose career has been undistinguished (his life-time major league batting average was .247 before this season) admits: "People have always assumed that I was playing in Dick's shadow, ever since I reached the big-leagues in 1966 with Washington" Dick was already up with Philadelphia and was a .300 hitter. But I never felt I was in his shadow. I've only been in my own shadow."

Some people now believe Hank is on the White Sox solely because of Dick. As long as the White Sox were trampling the opposition and Dick was battering the pitchers, Hank was accepted as a bone for Dick. When the club ran into trouble, Hank's presence came under greater scrutiny. "A lot of us thought that there must have been some kind of deal made between the White Sox and Dick," said Ed Spiezio, fine utility infielder for the White Sox last year and now a furniture salesman in Joliet. Spiezio, who expected a good raise for the 1973 season, found himself instead cut from the squad in spring training. It was the beginning of the salary squabbles that have hurt the White Sox. Recently, Rick Reichardt and Mike Andrews quit the team because of contract problems. Reichardt's departure was especially harmful, since he is a solid hitting outfielder. And with injuries to starters such as Ken Henderson, Carlos May and Dick Allen, good subs are a premium to the White Sox. In a time of reserve need, the White Sox did not call on Hank, even though he has played leftfield and right field and thirdbase and second base and firstbase and has caught one inning. As of mid-July, Allen had played in only 20 games, had batted only 26 times and had just two hits, one a double, for a .077 batting average.

When injuries hit them the White Sox did not go to Hank Allen for help but dipped into their minor league clubs. One recent acquisition, Buddy Bradford, hit four home runs in his first 13 games "I don't know why I was sent down in the first place, " he said "No one blames Hank or Dick for Hank's staying with the club," said Spiezio "Both of them are great guys. And if any of us were in Dick's position, with the power he has over management, we'd probably be doing the same thing to help out our brother". Dick, who has had a reputation for disgruntlement along with his proven spectacular ability, has come to the White Sox after mercurial stops with the Phillies, Cardinals and Dodgers. No team has given him as much money ($225,000 a season),as much freedom (he may come to practice or he may not) to try to squeeze every ounce of talent from him.

Was Hank Allen another consolation to Dick? Manager Chuck Tanner says that Hank made the team on his own abilities He did bat nearly.280 in spring training; he did work as hard or harder than anyone else (he and Dick would get to the Sarasota, Fla, park at 6:30 a.m ) and when the season began in Arlington, Tex, against the Rangers, Tanner was so unprepared to have Hank make the squad, he says, that he didn't even order a uniform for him. Hank had to wear a uniform from 1972, which was a different shade of blue. Tanner contends that Hank is valuable since he is so versatile in the field. And says, "Maybe it's my fault that he doesn't play more. Hank tells people that he is aware of the criticism of his presence. Fans write letters to local newspapers about it. Hank says about this, "People have the problem of being human, and humans are jealous, envious and sometimes unthinking. But I have to think in a positive realm, and understand my worth."

He has heard the criticisms before. In fact, even in high school in Wampum, Pa., where he was an all-around sports star, he was always being called "Caesar's brother," and "Coy's brother," after two older brothers.


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