I’ve got to admit, prior to today, I never considered the parallels between Allen Iverson’s return to the Sixers and Dick Allen coming back to the Phillies in 1975. Though citing the latter’s draw at the box office and defending the elder Allen against Bill James’ assessment that he “did more to keep his teams from winning than anybody else who ever played”, the Philadelphia Daily News’ Bill Conlin describes what happened after the slugger (briefly) retired rather than play for the Braves (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)
At age 33, Allen was what they call a “shot fighter” around boxing. He wound up hitting a career-low .233 in 119 games with 12 homers. He played in just 85 games in 1976 when the Phils won their first NL East title, but banged 15 homers and hit .268. But he landed in Danny Ozark’s doghouse. Later, he briefly left the club without permission after the Phils clinched the division in the first game of a Sunday doubleheader in Montreal to protest his friend Tony Taylor being left off the postseason roster.
Allen flew home to Philly while his teammates formally celebrated their title in St. Louis that night. His absence was noticed and unappreciated. Dick declared free agency and spent an unhappy final season in Oakland.
Maybe you really can’t go home again. Seven years had flown by since Allen last went to spring training in Clearwater – Crash didn’t like practice, either. The owners had locked their players out of 1976 spring training and the Phillies were holding informal workouts at Dunedin’s Grant Field. Dick arrived in Clearwater and, just as he had done every other spring, strode into the lobby of the Ft. Harrison Hotel, ready to check in. He was stopped by a guard toting a shotgun. “Isn’t this the headquarters of the Philadelphia Phillies?” Dick asked.
“No,” the security guard replied, “It’s the Eastern headquarters of the Church of Scientology.”