Chicago Baseball Museum honors Dick Allen

Chicago Baseball Museum honors Dick Allen

Chicago Baseball Museum honors Dick Allen
CHICAGO -- As a 20-year-old rookie out of Wasson High School in Colorado Springs, Colo., Hall of Famer Rich "Goose" Gossage received a valuable indoctrination to Major League Baseball with the Chicago White Sox.

His lessons were taught by legendary manager Chuck Tanner and legendary pitching coach Johnny Sain. But Gossage also picked up crucial information from a teammate who just happened to be one of the best hitters of his time, and maybe all-time.

It's almost impossible for Gossage to put into words how much he learned from Dick Allen.

"Oh my God, how much time do you have?" said Gossage, who took part in the Chicago Baseball Museum's fundraising dinner in honor of Allen and the rest of the '72 team at the U.S. Cellular Field Stadium Club on Monday night. The happy group reuniting from 20 years ago included then general manager and now baseball icon Roland Hemond.

"I was a rookie when I ran into Dick Allen," Gossage said, "and he took me under his wing and taught me how to pitch from a great hitter's standpoint and taught me so many things about pitching.

"[He taught me] where to locate pitches and things like that. You know all the money couldn't pay for something like that. It was a great education, and Dick Allen was just a great guy. Little did I know when I was a rookie that I would be playing with the greatest player I would ever see play the game."

Monday's dinner closed out a whirlwind weekend for members of the '72 squad that's credited with resurrecting the White Sox franchise through its exciting 87-67 second-place showing in the American League West. It was especially moving for Allen, who has never counted public appearances among his favorite things, but was on the field before the White Sox 1-0 victory over the Brewers in 10 innings on Sunday and threw out one of the ceremonial first pitches. The red pinstriped uniforms worn by the White Sox for every Sunday home game are in honor of this '72 team.

Allen won the 1972 AL Most Valuable Player Award, leading the league with 37 homers, 113 RBIs, 99 walks, a .420 on-base percentage, a .603 slugging percentage, a 1.023 OPS and a 199 OPS+. His .308 batting average left him third and just 11 points away from winning the Triple Crown.

Yet when Allen was asked Monday night how he will be remembered as a player, he wanted no part of such analysis.

"Ask the guys right over there," said Allen, pointing to former teammates in attendance such as Gossage, Carlos May and Bill Melton. "They will tell you."

Those teammates were asked, and they responded with effusive praise.

"He taught me the game," said May, who currently coaches for an independent league team in Schaumburg, Ill, while also doing community relations work for the White Sox. "Baserunning, hitting, setting pitchers up, the whole bit. I was lacking a little stuff, and what I was lacking, he taught me."

"[Dick was] probably the most intelligent baseball man that I've ever been around, and I've been around some great minds," Gossage said. "What Dick meant to me, I can't even put it into words."

Tanner and Allen drove to Cooperstown to surprise Gossage at his 2008 Hall of Fame induction. They wanted Gossage to know how much the hurler meant to them.

Over this past weekend, Gossage joined with White Sox fans to return that exact sentiment to Allen.

"I think he realized, but Dick don't like the spotlight about him," May said. "For him to do this is awesome."

"I'm overwhelmed by all of it," said Allen during a brief interview Monday. "I don't know what to really say about it other than thank you. It's a very moving time."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.