December 5th, 2021 was a historic day for baseball fans and card collectors. Six new members of baseball’s Hall of Fame class were announced on that day.
The Early Baseball Era committee elected the election of two pre-1950 Negro League stars in Bud Fowler and Buck O’Neil. The Golden Days Era committee voted in four players whose primary contributions came from 1950 to 1969: Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Miñoso, and Tony Oliva.
All four of these players, along with BBWAA electee David Ortiz will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday, July 24th.
Once the collective baseball-following world got over the surprise at the sheer number of players being elected, the next big surprise hit – that Richie “Dick” Allen was not among them.
Today we’ll look at Allen’s career, his time on the various hall of fame ballots, and of course the best Dick Allen baseball cards.
A player becomes eligible for election into the Hall of Fame five years after their retirement. If a player had a 10-year career and is selected by the committee, they appear on the ballot to be voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).
A player appears on the ballot until elected by appearing on 75% of ballots, dropping off the ballot by appearing on less than 5% of ballots, or appearing on the ballot for 10 years (until recently, the maximum years on the ballot was 15).
Now, after a player drops off the ballot, induction into the Hall of Fame isn’t off the table. The Hall of Fame knows that with more time, some players’ careers can be re-examined and their Hall of Fame case becomes more convincing. The Hall has a series of committees that meet to examine these players and their hall of fame merits.
These committees consist of 16 members that meet in person and vote. Just like the BBWAA ballot, 75% or more of the vote is required for induction, in this case, 12 out of 16 votes.
Dick Allen was a hitting machine. During his career, which spanned parts of 15 seasons, Dick Allen stats were .292/.378/.534, good for a .912 OPS and an OPS+ of 156.
For context, that OPS+ number is tied for 22nd all-time, tied with Frank Thomas. A few players who finished their career with an OPS+ of 155, one lower than Allen includes: Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Joe DiMaggio, and Mel Ott. Of course, with the exception of DiMaggio, Allen had significantly fewer career plate appearances than those other players. But when Allen was on the field, he was hitting.
In his career, Allen hit 351 and drove in 1,119 runs. He was the 1964 National League Rookie of the Year, and the 1972 American League MVP. He played in seven All-Star games and led his league in home runs twice and RBI once.
With this level of offensive dominance, why was Allen not elected to the Hall of Fame years ago? There are several factors.
One is career length. Allen had 7,315 plate appearances. By comparison, Frank Thomas had 10,075 and Hank Aaron 13,941. His 1,848 career hits are on the lower side because of the limited plate appearances.
Another factor was defense. While not a butcher with the glove, Allen’s overall defense (at 1B, 3B, and in LF) was below average. The lack of defensive contribution and low plate appearance total led Allen to a 58.7 WAR, which is a bit low for a Hall of Famer at first or third base. That being said, his WAR7 (WAR in his best 7 seasons – aka, “peak”) was 45.9, which is in line with a Hall of Famer.
The other thing that has hurt Allen is reputational. In the popular consciousness, Allen was a “clubhouse lawyer” who was not good for clubhouse morale, and some claim he even quit on his team on several occasions.
As time passes, many teammates and managers have come out against this reputation. Is it true? And does it matter? As more time passes, I tend to think people forget these types of things, or at least they take on less importance.
Dick Allen first appeared on the BBWAA ballot for the first time in 1983. He appeared on only 3.7% of ballots, and was dropped from the ballot in 1984. In 1985, the Hall of Fame had a panel of sportswriters create a list of eleven players who had been dropped from the ballot to return.
Allen was among those eleven. He received 7.1% of the vote, far from enshrinement, but good enough to appear on future ballots. He appeared on BBWAA ballots for the next thirteen years, getting between 7.8% and 18.9% of the vote. With his fifteen years of eligibility exhausted, he dropped off the ballot after 1997.
Allen appeared on the Golden Era ballot in 2014, falling one vote short of enshrinement. The next election was to happen in late 2020, but was pushed to late 2021. This was unfortunate timing, as Allen passed away on December 7th, 2020 at age 78.
Going into the 2021 Golden Days Era vote, many considered Allen the most likely player to get elected. It was quite a surprise when six players were elected, but Allen was not one of them. He once again fell one vote short.
Allen’s next shot at appearing on the ballot will be in 2026. As that election approaches, Allen is likely the frontrunner for induction. Of course, he has been there before. Allen’s type of Hall of Fame case, with statistical dominance but less longevity, and some character questions are the types that tend to become clearer with time and further review.
The Trading Card Database has appeared on 391 cards, from his ROY season in 1964 right up into 2022.
Dick Allen’s rookie card is 1964 Topps Phillies Rookie Stars #243. The card has long sold like a Hall of Fame rookie card to some degree, as PSA 8’s have been selling in the $550 range. That being said, when and if Allen does get elected to the Hall of Fame, I expect this card to see a temporary bump, with some long-term carry.
Allen’s playing day cards are a great collection of 1960’s and 1970’s vintage cards, many of which are not that expensive either raw or graded. Some really fun and interesting cards are “leader” cards that Topps produced in those years.
Allen appears on several leader cards with some other stars and future Hall of Famers of the era. An example is 1967 Topps NL RBI Leaders, which features Allen along with Hank Aaron and Roberto Clemente. It’s hard to imagine a better representation of that particular era of baseball history.
If you’re a modern collector who enjoys certified autographs, serial numbered cards, and memorabilia cards, Allen appeared on a number of those in the 2000’s. There is also a selection of buyback cards from that era as well, the perfect mix of old and new.
Here are a few select examples of Allen cards, with info on total PSA population size and some recent sales data:
|Year/set||Total PSA Pop||Recent Sale Pop||Recent Sale Price|
|1964 Topps Phillies Rookie Stars #243||973||PSA 8: 265||$500|
|1967 Topps NL RBI Leaders (w/ Clemente & Aaron) #242||1,240||PSA 7: 321||$70-125|
|1976 Topps #455||230||PSA 8: 93||$65|
Dick Allen’s Hall of Fame journey started a long time ago and continues to this day. It is unfortunate that the journey did find its resolution during his lifetime.
When and if he makes the Hall of Fame, it is likely that his cards, in particular his rookie card, will see a slight uptick in interest and value. Regardless, though, there is likely a place in your collection for some cards of Dick Allen, one of the most feared sluggers of his day.