This Day in White Sox History: Dick Allen crashes into town

This Day in White Sox History: Dick Allen crashes into town
Dick Allen receives his MVP trophy from veteran sportswriter Edgar Munzel early in 1973 season. (Chicago White Sox)

December 2, 1971 - It was the trade that perhaps saved the franchise. Sox player personnel director Roland Hemond sent pitcher Tommy John and infielder Steve Huntz to the Dodgers for disgruntled slugger Dick AllenAllen, one of the most prolific talents in the game, marched to his own drummer and was deemed difficult to handle by other teams and managers. Somehow Sox skipper Chuck Tanner, who knew the Allen family for years, got the best out of him. Dick would almost single handedly lead the team to the 1972 playoffs, winning the American League’s M.V.P. He’d win two home run titles in his three years on the South Side and be named to three All Star teams. His popularity kept the turnstiles spinning and kept the White Sox solvent.

An hour later Hemond, stole pitcher Stan Bahnsen from the Yankees for infielder Rich McKinneyBahnsenwould go on to win 21 games in 1972. Hemond explained to me his mind-set in making those two deals.

“Acquiring Dick was a daring move. I felt though that Chuck Tanner would be the right manager for him. Chuck is from New Castle, Pennsylvania and Allen was from Wampum, Pennsylvania. Chuck had known Dick and Dick’s mom for years. Allen was one of the most talented players to have ever played the game. We felt he could help us. Then we acquired Stan Bahnsen within a half hour of completing the Allen trade. Those two transactions made a big difference in strengthening the Sox for 1972. If Bill Melton hadn’t suffered a herniated disk and had to have an operation in mid season, I believe we would have won the pennant in 1972.”

December 2, 2002 - A deal that didn’t work out very well for the Sox as Kenny Williams traded closer Keith Foulke, catcher Mark Johnson and a third player to the A’s for pitchers Billy Koch, Neal Cotts and a third player. Koch never did find the success he had in either Toronto or Oakland in part because of a rare illness. Cotts at least, would have a spectacular season in 2005 helping the Sox win the World Series before losing his rhythm.

Foulke meanwhile, would save 44 games and make the All Star team. Then later become the closer for the Red Sox when they won the World Series. Williams may have had his hands tied, by the fact that then manager Jerry Manuel had lost confidence in Foulke and refused to pitch him in key situations in the back half of the 2002 season.

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