"We know Dick Allen," said Outfielder Henderson. "We know he's obsessed with winning. He just has his own way of doing things. You'll never hear anybody on this club criticize Dick Allen."
"Hell's bells," said knuckleball king Wood. "He's a great ballplayer. There's no resentment here."
"I need spring training," said Allen's substitute at first base, Tony Muser. "But if I had his ability, I wouldn't want to go, either."
"Not a ballplayer on this team has ever complained about Dick Allen," said Santo, who joined the White Sox this year after a trade with the crosstown Cubs. "I'm new and I would have noticed if anyone had."
The very thought of anyone objecting to Allen's privileges is, in the words of Outfielder May, "a lot of malarkey."
When the White Sox returned home from a road trip to open a series with Kansas City last Friday night, Tanner, many of the players and maybe even Allen himself anticipated some hostile fan reaction. The team's record was two wins, eight losses. Allen had not been hitting and the brouhaha over his threatened defection had scarcely subsided. White Sox fans are a brawling, raucous, vocal multitude. But they are also intensely loyal.
When Allen came to bat in the first inning, the applause and cheers began as soon as he stepped out of the on-deck circle. It was a gratifying sound, at least to Tanner. No matter that boos accompanied Allen's subsequent strikeout. "They'd boo Jesus Christ if he struck out," said the Sox' ebullient announcer, Harry Caray.
"I love these people," Tanner said, driving home from the ball park after the Sox's 5-4 win. "I knew they'd stand behind Dick."
When Allen hit a home run into the left-field seats the following day, it was as if all were well again on the home front, even though the Sox lost the game. They did win on Sunday, but Allen remains wary, reminding associates that what happened in Philadelphia—where the good Lord might be booed if he tripled with the bases loaded—seemed to be happening again.
That is doubtful. Still....