Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Dick Allen collection

Dick Allen is one of the worst baseball players to collect. This is due to the fact he's hard to search for online.

He went under 3 different names during his playing career:

Richie Allen
Rich Allen
Dick Allen

So if you want to be thorough, you need to search all 3 names.

And with the last name "Allen", you get lots of Allen & Ginter cards polluting your search results.

Oh, and there's a blog called Dick Allen Hall of Fame that has photoshopped up dozens of "cards that never were" of the man. Don't get me wrong, these are cool to look at-- however, it can be confusing when you're doing a Google image search to find out what cards are out there, and a bunch of fake cards show up tricking you.

On top of that, his first name is slang for male genitalia. This could lead to some unpleasant search results, especially with image searches, if you're not careful.

So yeah, it's a pain.

But dang it, he's a bad-ass.

He's not in the Hall, but was easily one of the game's best from 1964 through 1974. Stat-heads love him for putting up big offensive numbers during an era of pitching dominance, and some consider him the best eligible player not enshrined. His at-times combative personality, and the fact that leg injuries limited the length of his career, are the likely reasons he hasn't gotten the call, though hopefully the Veterans Committee puts him in one of these years.
I'm not going to type up a full bio here, but if you'd like to learn more about his career, here are the usual links:
Stats at baseball-reference
Bio at Wikipedia

Yep, a bad-ass.

Still, though, I realize he's an odd choice to be one of my top tier collecting guys. He was never a member of my hometown team (Padres), and he played his final game a few months before I was born, so it's not like I ever got to watch him play. What ignited my love for him is that he happened to be signing at a card show I went to once when I was young.

I haven't gotten a lot of in-person autographs in my life (maybe a dozen athletes, and another dozen musicians), but I got Mr. Allen to sign a baseball for me at a card show back in 1992 or so. I think it was at the '92 All-Star Fan Fest (San Diego had the All-Star game that year, and it was part of the festivities leading up to the game). I don't think I really knew anything about him then, and definitely didn't own any of his cards, but learned about him in later years, growing to be a big fan.

Sadly, I got rid of that ball when I drastically slimmed down my possessions in preparation for moving from San Diego to Portland a few years ago. Out of everything I jettisoned from my "old life," that ball is probably the item that's loss stings the most. I definitely kick myself every now and then, wishing I could go back in time and put that into the "keep" pile. *sigh*

I've sort of made up for it in recent years by obtaining many of Dick Allen's cards from his playing days, plus 3 different certified autograph cards, but they can't compete with the coolness of a baseball you got signed in-person as a kid. I guess if I were to over-analyze it, I'd look at that Dick Allen ball as a representation of my lost youth. And collecting baseball cards-- Dick Allen cards, in particular-- is me trying to recapture some of that innocence.
Oh well.

Anyways, let's break down the baseball cards of Dick Allen! Below are the cards of his I own. I've got all his standard Topps cards, and a few other cards. I'd be interested in any cards I'm missing, as well as an autographed baseball that I can use to attempt to fool myself into believing it's the ball I had the man sign for me over 20 years ago.

1964 Topps #243

Allen's rookie card. It's not bad, but of course it's got that random no-name guy on it too. John Herrnstein batted just .220 in a career that spanned from 1962 to 1966, with 1964 being the only year played more than half a season in the bigs. Despite the write up proclaiming him a power hitter, John only hit 8 yard in nearly 500 MLB plate appearances.

1965 Topps #460


My only graded Allen. It's also probably my favorite of his cards. Gotta love that huge All-Star Rookie trophy. And of course 1965 Topps is just a pleasing design. Cool fronts and great stylized cartoons on the back, along with a write-up and full stats.

1966 Topps #80

Another cool card. This one made a reappearance as a reprint in 2002 Archives. This card has some personal weight with me, as I got it the day I bought the engagement ring to propose to my girl, and I was also looking at it when I got the call offering me my current job. So yeah, this card is a part of my life!

1967 Topps #450

Topps showed Richie some respect with a nice 450 "hero number". Great looking card. Got this card from a guy I traded music bootlegs with. I wasn't expecting it, so it was a very pleasant surprise. Another great, yet simple design by Topps. It's the first facsimile autograph seen on an Allen card. Notice he signs it "Rich" even though the media and Topps insist on calling him Richie, a name he thought was childish and never actually went by. My one complaint with this year's design is the cartoons on the back are pretty small and often hard to read. Note the somewhat offensive first cartoon here.. That would never fly today, even though it's not mean-spirited or anything.

1968 Topps #225

Not a bad card, but Allen suddenly looks like an old man. 1967 must've taken its toll on him. A lot of collectors aren't crazy about 1968 Topps, but it's one of my favorite sets. Sure, it may be dated now, but it's a nice throwback to days gone by. I could use an upgrade of this card, as it's a little creased at his left shoulder and the corners aren't very sharp. I actually did get another copy of this card, but the corners were just too round to usurp this one.

1969 Topps #350

I've always liked 1969 Topps, even though yes, it's very reminiscent of the previous two year's designs, and many of the photos are old or recycled. Looks like this photo is likely from the same shoot as his 1968 Topps photo. This card isn't my favorite of his, but it's ok. You'll notice my card has a stain dot in the upper left corner. Like 1968, I have another of these cards, but it's got a crease. Stain dot beats crease, so this is my top card for now.

1970 Topps #40

This might be the first "bad" Allen card, as Topps attempts to trick us into thinking he's in a Cardinals uniform, but it's just a sneaky shot of him as a Phillie. Notice since how he's now free of the Philadelphia press who insisted on calling him Richie, he's now listed as Rich. 1970 Topps might be my least-favorite vintage set. It's not terrible, just sort of drab. The backs are good, though, as we still get the trifecta of a cartoon, write-up, and full stats.

1971 Topps #650

Great card (photographer's knee in the lower left notwithstanding). And though he wasn't a Dodger the season prior, it seems to be a real (not airbrushed) photo, but hard to say. It's a late-series card, which means it's a short print, and as such, it's one of Dick's pricier cards, typically priced even higher than his rookie card. He's still going by Rich here, and the facsimile autograph makes a reappearance. It's kind of a bummer that we didn't get any cards featuring a real photo of DA as a Cardinal (besides his 1971 Kellogg's card, which I need). My card is a bit worn, but that's to be expected from the black-bordered 1971 Topps. I like the set's alternate photo on the back, though I miss the full stats.

1972 Topps #240

Look familiar? Yep, it's the same photo from 1970, only now instead of pretending to be a Cardinals uniform, it's pretending to be a White Sox uniform. It's a cool set on the whole, but this particular card kinda sucks since it's an old, recycled photo. By then, Dick had big glasses, big sideburns, and a big mustache; all missing from this photo. I wish Topps would have just used a Dodgers photo from the previous year rather than try to fudge it for the sake of appearing to be current, team-wise. Dick was MVP in 1972, so this unfortunate card would make reappearances in commemorative MVP sets such as the 1975 Topps subset and the Kmart set of 1982.

1973 Topps #310

Here's the first "Dick" Allen card, and his first action shot card (and sadly, the only batting photo used on a card during his playing career, I believe). Sweet card. I've always liked 1973 Topps a lot. Great fronts with many in-game photos, plus the trifecta back (cartoon, write-up, full stats). Fresh off an MVP season. Yep, one of his coolest cards, for sure.

1974 Topps #70

Not one of my favorite cards of his. Boring close-up photo of Dick sitting on the bench. His big 70s glasses look pretty dorky by today's standards. The back is decent, and we get a full name facsimile signature, along with a strange cartoon ("Dick likes to listen to stereo music"?? I guess stereo was a somewhat new thing in 1974. Does this imply he doesn't like listening to mono music?)

1975 Topps #400

Another hero number for Dick, with Topps bestowing the vaunted #400 to our man. Little did anyone know this would be his penultimate card and 1974 would be his last great year. This is the only defensive action shot from his Topps cards. I like 1975 Topps, but the backs aren't great. Hard to read, and the cartoons rarely have anything to do with the player whose card it is. The short write-up here notes Dick was traded to Atlanta at the end of 1974. However, he actually returned to Philadelphia for the 1975 season. I could use an upgrade of this card, because as you can see, mine has a random green dot on Dick's neck, looking like he's been hit by a tranquilizer dart by the opposing team.

1976 Topps #455

And here's the final card of Dick Allen's playing career. He played 85 games in 1976 with the Phillies, then 54 games in 1977 with Oakland before packing it up in June. Unfortunately, Topps wouldn't give him a card in their 1977 or 1978 sets, so we never got a card of him in an A's uniform. 1976 Topps is an ok set, but a little underwhelming. The photo of Dick seems to be saying "I'm too old for this shit," so I guess it's fitting this is his final card. Still, though, us DA fans rightfully hold a grudge against Topps for ignoring the final 2 years of his career.

Now that we've covered all his Topps flagship player cards, let's hit his other appearances I've got.

1967 Topps #242 NL RBI Leaders 

Love this card, though it's not in great shape. But a vintage card of 3 of my all-time favorites together.. gotta love it. Looks like Topps got lazy and reused the same photo of Dick from his 1966 card, just cropped tighter.

1969 Topps Deckle Edge Insert #26

This photo is so much better than his 1969 base card. Topps was dumb for not using it there. These deckle inserts always seem like they're trying to trick people into thinking the auto is legit, but of course it's just a facsimile. And the back is super boring with little info or anything. Still, nice addition to the collection. This is an upgrade for me. I also have one with a fold crease in the middle of it.

1970 O-Pee-Chee #40

The front looks identical to the 1970 Topps version, while the back has an altered write-up (2nd half is in French), altered cartoon, and is on different card stock.

1974 Topps #332 All-Star First Basemen

Another card shared with greatness; here Mr. Hank Aaron again. The back is apparently the lower-right piece of a puzzle of somebody. I wouldn't mind upgrading this card, though I'm not crazy about All-Star cards.

1982 Kmart 20th Anniversary #21

Here's that disappointing 1972 lie card again. Topps put out this 44-card set in conjunction with Kmart to commemorate MVPs in each league, 1962-1982, plus a few "highlight" cards to round it out. I don't care much for these Kmart cards (nobody does), but got the complete set with worn original box on Listia for a handful of credits a while back. Decent write-up on the back, at least. Unfortunately, this card has a gum stain. An upgrade would be nice.

2000 Fleer Greats of the Game #103

Now we get into the modern-era post-career cards. I like this card because it's the only Dick Allen card I have that features full career stats on the back.

2000 Topps Golden Anniversary Great certified autograph #GAA-DA

The first certified auto of this post. Nice card, though in both pictures, Dick looks kinda like a wax figure.

2001 Topps Archives certified autograph (1964 Reprint #243) #TAA85

This is the most recent addition to my collection, picking it up from eBay last week for under $15 (there's one on COMC for $50, so I think I got a good deal). These "updated" rookie reprints are weird, though, with Topps removing the other guy who originally shared the card (though keeping his info on the backside). But yeah, I like this card a lot.

2001 Fleer Greats of the Game

This was the first certified Dick Allen auto I ever got, so I like it for that reason (again, trying to make up for letting my autographed ball slip away), though yeah, it's a bit boring and the "Congrats!" back is lame (I'd much rather get career stats and/or a write-up). These are frequently on eBay for $10-15.

2001 Topps American Pie #22

Here's the last card of the post. Nothing too special. I think I threw this in with a COMC order I did a while back because it was just like 50 cents. Features a couple nice young photos of Mr. Allen from his first stint with the Phillies. The back photo seems to be an in-color version of the one used for his 1969 deckle edge we saw a few cards above.

I've upgraded these below cards (only slight upgrades, but still), so I've got lesser-condition ones available for trade:
1968 Topps
1969 Topps
1974 Topps
1976 Topps
1969 Topps deckle

Some specific Dick Allen needs (certified autograph cards I know about and don't have):
2009 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions auto
2004 Topps Fan Favorites auto (1965 design)
2007 Upper Deck Sweet Spot auto(s)
2002 Topps Archives auto (1966 reprint)

There are also some vintage League Leaders featuring DA I'm missing, but they can sometimes be pricey since they are often shared by the likes of Hank Aaron and Willie Mays. And there are many oddballs missing from my collection (cards by Kellogg's, SSPC, etc). And I probably wouldn't turn away upgrades, either. He's also got an autobiography called Crash that I hope to get someday soon. It's supposed to be a good read.
As always, let me know if you're interested in trading. Thanks!

UPDATE 1/5/2014: I've posted an update with additions to my DA collection


P.S. Don't forget it's Pull-Tab Awareness Week! If you haven't already, please read the post and share the message!


  1. I loved Dick Allen when he was in ChiTown. And yeah - the dude should get his face in Cooperstown.

  2. Terrific post. Yes, it is a shame he never appeared as a Cardinal on a Topps card. But fortunately we have that terrific '71 card. Wow I love that thing.

  3. When he was with the 1977 A's he had a monthly contract with Charles Finley.He just got tired of playing in June and quit,(I dont recall any injury),so thats why he had no 1978 card.

  4. @night owl- glad you liked the post!

    @sg488- thanks for setting me straight on Dick's 1977. I'll fix that up.

  5. John Herrnstein accompanied Ferguson Jenkins to Chicago in 1966, in one of the all-time fleecings.

  6. I'm not sure where my ball from the '92 Fan Fest is either. Can't remember all the names on it, but I think Ralph Branca or Bobby Thomson was on there. Anyways, I love those deckle edge cards from the '69 set. Thanks for the Pull-Tab PSA, I might have to steal an image from here when I do the trade post on the sweet cards you sent.

  7. I've got the OPC Rich Allen '69 deckel edge, with the black signature facsimile. Excellent condition, along with 2 Tommy Helms, Roberto Clemente, Yaz, McCovey, Maury Wills, Rod Carew.

  8. I have a card of Richie allen I can't find anywhere. It is a baseball's all-time greats card and it says he is infielder to can some one help me

    1. Nobody hit a ball further than Richie Allen and I remember many blasts over the Ballantine Sign at Connie Mack.