Photo . Don Hennon ( left All American pitt basketball same year as Wilt Chamberlain ) Middle Harold Allen ... Right Richie " Dick" Allen , Wampum High School basketball
Pretty good article ( at bottom ) on a damn nice guy who was misunderstood by the masses in an era that was less than ideal for black players ..
My Take from personal experiences
A large part of why Richie " Dick " Allen was misunderstood lies deeper than anyone cares to investigate .
How do I know you may ask , well its simple we come from the same hometown , in fact the House he had built for his late departed mother is literally 45 seconds from my house by car .
Richie is quite a few years older than me and went to High School with my Uncle they where in the same graduating class ( a class of 20 something kids ) .
I have had the pleasure of speaking with him on many occasions through out the years as he still comes home ( to his mothers old home ) every year for 3-4 months and we run into one another at the post office , the small hometown store on main street of our Big city of 600
Richie always has time to chat whether it be about life , baseball , horse racing or just some little thing that is different about the area since his last stay .
Yes he is a regular guy in his home town .
Many will scoff at my words to this point because that is not like anything they have ever heard or read about Richie Allen but I am here to tell you it is 100% true and accurate depiction of the man .
here is why the Richie Allen you have heard / read about differs from the man I have come to know
We are a small close knit community in South Western Pa nestled in Lawrence County .
There are a few African American Families in or in close proximity to our little town of Wampum , the Allens , Kings , Robinsons , Grimes , and a few others that I do not know as well as this is a Rural area .
I played baseball with children of these families growing up , their parents and mine sat on the same bleachers and cheered hard for every child on the team , they shared peanuts and sunflower seeds in the stands while they watched on we visited one another and had pick up games in the summer Willie King coached baseball and gave back to the community , his sons where two of my childhood friends .
no distinction was ever made over color of skin we where neighbors , community ( even though being rural neighbors could be considered 3 miles away )
This may seem to be getting a bit off track but its building a basis for why the Richie Allen known to the world is not the Richie Allen that is known locally .
We treated one another with mutual respect as people , we did not hold prejudices or preconceived ideas about one another just because we where different in appearance .
Everyone got the respect they deserved based on how they acted towards others and what they did or did not do in the community .
So Richie Allen left the small town life style where he was treated with dignity and respect for the person he was ( not the color of his skin ) and was thrust into the spotlight of the national media and large venues where he was disrespected for doing absolutely nothing wrong but playing the game of baseball that he loved all because his skin color did not match those of the majority in that era .
He was exposed to a level of ignorance he had never his entire lifetime been exposed to and his reactions to that was not taken well by society , his reaction was normal for a man unprepared for what was put before him for the first time in his life , it was off the cuff unrehearsed from an unprepared man from a small town .
I realize he was not the first man of color to play pro ball but most ( if not all ) from that era came from big cities and had been exposed to that sort of thing their entire lives , granted this is at a larger scale but having some expectation of what was to come certainly had to be a big help for them in the way of preparedness ..
Richie Allen was blessed by where he came from ( Wampum Pa ) but with that blessing was at the same time a curse to some degree by being ill prepared of the harsh cruel world he was about to discover outside of the sleepy little town he called home Wampum
If the entire nation was a little bit more like Wampum the Country would be a far better place for all of us
Related story of why Richie should be in the baseball HoF