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Despite the impairment, he hit 33 and 32 home runs in '68 and '69. Since he could no longer throw very well, he began playing first base. There, in one effort to force the Phillies to trade him, he hit upon the inspired notion of answering the fans' taunts with fool-graffiti in the dirt. "I wouldn't have had to do a lot of things I did if it hadn't been for the reserve clause," he says.
Commissioner Bowie Kuhn disapproved of the writing. General Manager John Quinn called down to tell Allen to quit. Allen wrote NO and, later, WHY and then MOM—"to say she tells me what to do, not the man up there."
At last the Phillies traded Allen to St. Louis, where he hit a long home run on opening day to tumultuous applause. He respected the Cards, but he was not entirely happy in his work. "I couldn't play in St. Louis—the racetracks there operate at night and we played at night. And for some reason my mother never would come to see me there. It's the only place she wouldn't visit me. And they pulled that clause on me [the seldom-used contract provision that requires a player to accept the club's terms after a certain period of holding out]. Nobody ever did that to me before. I said, 'O.K., you'll get what you paid for—one good year.' And they did." St. Louis management may not have agreed. They did not like to have him loosening up in a bar instead of the batting cage. He went to the Dodgers. "I've never been so disappointed in my life as when I got out there," he says. "The old Dodgers were my team, but these guys were a bunch of crybabies, always arguing with umpires and throwing their helmets. Maury Wills was hard to play with. Walt Alston treated me like a man, but he'd been quoted as saying he'd quit if they got me. Maybe he was misquoted, but he never said anything different to me. All that mounted up.
"I was hitting about .220 and I knew I wasn't going to go back. My mom said, 'Well, if it's your last year, don't you think you ought to do something''' I decided I'd get up to .300. So I did. After the season I was on my way to the racetrack when I saw a sign that said SAN FRANCISOO. I wound up in Tacoma, Wash, after driving all through Idaho."
By the time he got back to Wampum, fate had provided him a place to play ball where he would feel, figuratively, close to home. In fact, Allen and his new manager. Chuck Tanner, call each other "Homey." Tanner hails from New Castle, Pa., eight miles from Wampum, and he has been acquainted with the Allen family since he watched Dick play high school basketball. In the winter of '71 Tanner urged the White Sox to buy Allen, and then paid a call to the house Dick had bought his mother in Wampum.
"I told him thank you but I don't intend to play," says Allen. "He said ' Jesus Christ.' And my Mom said, 'This guy's from home, Dick.' "
"I told Dick I would be the last manager he'd ever have and when he left me he'd go straight to the Hall of Fame," says Tanner, who talks of Allen the way Jack Valenti used to speak of Lyndon Johnson.
"I came here to Chicago to help Chuck out," Allen says. "I said I'd give 'em one year." Since then he has given the Sox several years' worth of increased attendance. He very nearly gave them a pennant in '72. "People said we had a good team," Dick says. "I didn't think we had bleep. I never had to play so hard in my life.
"Toward the end of the season I was completely exhausted, a nervous wreck. I'd been carrying the team for months. Nights I'd be hot one minute, cold the next, and wake up jumping. I didn't think I could play anymore. But this was the only place I'd felt I was liked. I didn't want to do anything to change it."