"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Friday, December 4, 2015

Dick Allen's amazing career, in poetry

The player known as Dick Allen started out as Richie. He was an immensely exciting baseball player in the 1960s and '70s. He was Richie as a rookie with the Phillies in 1964, the same year our Tony Oliva was so electrifying in the American League. Allen and Oliva put up monster stats in their respective leagues.
I invite you to click on the link below to read a reflective post I wrote on Allen recently, on my companion website "Morris of Course."
 
The purpose of my post today is to share poetry. My poem doesn't just focus on Allen - it tells about the 1964 Philadelphia Phillies, their quality and their ultimate collapse. It also refers to the most storied episode of that collapse, the steal of home by Chico Ruiz of the Cincinnati Reds.
Allen would play with several teams through his career. He came to the American League through a trade with the Chicago White Sox, and legend has it he saved the White Sox franchise for that city's south side. He was strong and powerful. As a rookie he played third base.
I invite you to read my "Ballad of Dick Allen" which could be presented as a song, narration-style. I could compose a brief chorus if need be. What a story! Here we go:
 
Baseball had a bat that roared
Back in 1964
Phillies had a rookie prize
He could give that ball a ride
 
Richie Allen was that man
He won over Philly fans
Giving them abundant fun
As he pushed in many runs
 
He had numbers right on par
With the finest superstars
Aaron, Mays and Ernie Banks
Welcomed Richie in their ranks
 
Phillies nearly took the prize
As their rookie mesmerized
Allen and his gallant mates
Were a favorite in the race
 
All that luster washed away
As that team began to fade
Was it luck or was it fate
Keeping them from being great?
 
It would be a famous slide
When the pennant was denied
Philly fans had been so sure
That their heroes would endure
 
Still they had the joy to see
Richie Allen's rookie seeds
With that bat he carved a niche
Giving fans those mem-ries rich
 
Allen kept on wowing them
Posting sterling stats again
On and on his bat showed pop
Finding stardom toward the top
 
But the time arrived for change
With his team and with his name
He would help the Cardinals tick
And his name would now be Dick
 
Then he donned the Dodger blue
For one season with that crew
Never mind the place he was
He showed lumber full of buzz
 
Playing on that team with Wills
Brought the L.A. scene some thrills
Then the White Sox made a bid
For that man so strong and big
 
Now he's in the A.L. scene
With the Pale Hose, adding gleam
With the Sox his star would grow
He was deemed a real savior
 
Sox were rumored to be ripe
For a move to some new site
Rumors sprouted and were heard
Like about St. Petersburg
 
Allen's presence gave new life
Like a wind gust for a kite
Watching him just wave that bat
Made boys wear a White Sox hat
 
On the south side, pride was high
Allen's bat just opened eyes
Windy City felt that love
Keeping White Sox with the Cubs
 
Allen earned the MVP
Home runs of such majesty
Out toward places out of reach
For mere mortals or the meek
 
You would think that team would find
Any way to keep that guy
Still a conflict came along
With Ron Santo doing wrong
 
Allen's feud with that old Cub
Made him seek a new ball club
Fans in Philly tipped their hat
When they heard he's coming back
 
Though his body felt a toll
Passing years and getting old
He amazed at Qualcomm Park
With a homer way, way out
 
Legend grew and got passed down
Of Dick Allen, such renown
He transformed the game he played
Ending with the Oakland A's
 
His last year was at the peak
Of the disco music beat
What a lengthy, thrilling ride
Allen's talents had supplied
 
I collected baseball cards
As a kid those names were large
As I sifted through a pile
Allen's name sure brought a smile
 
First he's Richie, then he's Dick
He might sign his name as "Rich"
Never mind, it's not germane
To the way he buoyed that game
 
He could sing a doo-wop tune
At the night clubs he did croon
His voice had a tenor tone
High, delicate it was known
 
Maybe he'd be in the Hall
If the Phillies won it all
Back in 1964
When the Cardinals slammed the door
 
We can play the "what if" game
Pondering what we ought to blame
Like that fateful steal of home
By that little Cincy gnome
 
Chico was that fellow's name
He gained legend in that game
Did he leave a curse that stuck
That the Phillies could not duck?
 
Allen stayed at his young peak
In the face of that loss streak
He kept playing like a star
Even with the team sub-par
 
Chico with his little size
Caused the Phillies to capsize
Somehow there's a moral there
For the fans who want to care
 
People, let the truth be known
History changes with a gnome
Ours is not to wonder why
We're just here to mop and dry

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