hen the Philadelphia Phillies called a young Richard Anthony Allen up from the minors, little did they know just what a force they would be releasing on Major League Baseball. Allen was talented, controversial and charming, and he chalked up 201 hits, 29 homers and batted .318 during his first year. When the dust settled on the 1964 season, Allen was named Rookie of the Year in the National League.
Allen went on to play for Philadelphia for the next five years. Fans there still talk about the unbelievable homerun he hit one season at home; it went over the Coca-Cola sign, which sat on top of the roof of Connie Mack Stadium.
He was traded to St. Louis following the 1969 season, and, in 1971, he played for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The following season, he moved on to the Chicago White Sox, where he was named the American League's Most Valuable Player. Allen returned to the Phillies for the 1975-76 seasons, and retired from the Oakland A's in 1977.
Although this year marks a quarter of a century since Allen appeared in a professional uniform, he remains a vital part of the game's legendary history. Equally as important, to his number one fan, a thoroughbred horseracing official and steward, Lou Santoro, Jr., he remains an inspiration today!
SMR: When did you start collecting Dick Allen memorabilia?
LS: My brother and I were big Phillies fans and, when I was 11 years old, my dad, who had met Allen, invited him to our home. The night that he came over, he signed an autograph for me that read: "To Louis, My good buddy, best wishes and all the coolness, Your man, Rich Allen." From that moment on, I was bitten by the Dick Allen collecting bug.
|A 1967 road flannel, a 1969 home flannel and
a 1976 home jersey, are just a fraction of the
Allen game used items in Santoro's collection.
SMR: What was the first piece in your collection?
LS: Well, the first prominent piece was a Dick Allen game-used Adirondack bat that I won in an auction. Shortly after that I also purchased a 1973 game used H&B bat from a private collection.
SMR: Do you have a favorite item in your collection?
LS: I have two favorite items in my collection. One is a 1969 Phillies flannel jersey that Allen wore in a home game. The other is a bat that he used in the 1967 All-Star game, in which he hit a home run.
|Santoro, who has many Dick Allen signed items, also arranges
personal appearances and signing sessions for Allen.
SMR: Do you have any idea of the value of your collection?
LS: The items in my collection are extremely rare. You just don't run into Allen game-used jerseys and bats everyday. I believe my collection of game-used items is probably valued at somewhere between $30 thousand and $50 thousand dollars. As any collector knows, prices fluctuate, but with Dick Allen game used items the demand will always be there because the items are so rare.
SMR: You are one of the lucky collectors who has not just gotten to meet your hero, but actually gotten to know him. What is that like?
LS: Getting to know the city's biggest baseball star, especially a player as controversial as Dick Allen, was a tremendous experience for an 11-year old boy. My dad, whom I nicknamed "RA", was able to make that happen because Dick had taken a liking to him. The opportunity I had (to meet him) gave me both a hobby, and a player, to closely follow. To this day, I'm still doing research and constantly finding out new things about him. In a recent book, author Bill James wrote that Allen was the second most controversial player in baseball history, second only to Rogers Hornsby. I know he was, and still is, considered to be controversial, but I think he was just ahead of his time in terms of players speaking out and demanding their true value. If he were playing today his demeanor would just blend in with all the other high-priced superstars.
SMR: Do you still keep in contact with him?
LS: Yes. I call him every once in a while and I arrange for him to do appearances and signings, primarily in the tri-sate area of New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He also loves to come out to Philadelphia Park Racetrack where I work. He is a very friendly guy who always asks how the family is doing.
|Signed batting helmets and balls make up what
Santoro believes is one of the most comprehensive
Allen collections in existence.
SMR: Are there any items you are still looking to add to your collection?
LS: I'm a true collector, so I'm always buying, trading, upgrading and am constantly on the prowl for game-used items. My quest at the moment is for a Dick Allen game-worn Chicago White Sox jersey, a St. Louis Cardinals flannel, an Oakland A's jersey and a Los Angeles Dodgers flannel. If I can acquire all four of those items I just may call it quits... but I doubt it. If anyone has any Allen memorabilia for sale, I'd be grateful if they would e-mail me at [email protected]
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