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In honor of actor Andy Garcia and his (unintentionally) hilarious reaction to Sofia (Mary Corleone) Coppola's death scene in "The Godfather, Part III."
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August 25,1973

Posted 11-17-2017 at 09:30 AM by TommyJohn
Updated 06-25-2018 at 10:43 PM by TommyJohn

August 25,1973

By this point in the season, the White Sox resembled a boxer contending for a championship title-after he has stepped in the ring brashly confident of victory, gotten in a few early licks on the champ, then in later rounds starting taking hard shots that left him woozy and on the verge of defeat, about to absorb the 1-2 combo from the champ that would put him out for good. On this date, the wobbling, out-on-their-feet 1973 White Sox were dealt the knockout blow.

The team called a press conference at which Roland Hemond quietly announced "we have decided to call it a season for Dick Allen."

Allen's leg wasn't 100%, and it would swell up in pain every time he attempted to play. The White Sox at this point had fallen to their lowest nadir of the season at 59-69, a full ten games under .500 and 17 games in back of the A's. Management had already put Ken Henderson back on the 21-day disabled list and his return was doubtful. Carlos May was also nursing leg problems at this point. The team decided that, with nothing left to play in 1973 except to give the young "kids" a look-see, it was best to shut down their most valuable commodity rather than forcing the issue and risking him further injury.

"I'd stay around if I could be of any help. It all depends" Allen told the media. He had praised young Jorge Orta, who he had taken under his wing, and expressed his desire to "stick around and help him out." He talked about how the leg would swell on him and added "when I'm not 100 percent, I can't really go all out. Still, if we were in contention, I'd try to be a designated hitter at least."

The announcement pretty much topped off the strange and ugly 1973 season nicely. A team that looked awesome on paper and ready to contend for, and win, a title, crumbled to dust. If I were weak mentally, I would try to ascribe all the injuries and mishaps to intentional devilry on the part of darker forces afoot, prowling around and singling the team out, and us fans, to inflict emotional distress and make all of us suffer. A curse, if you will.

No sooner did the White Sox sit Allen for the season than circling vultures swooped in for a feast. Allen and the Sox came in for criticism in the media, both local and national. Pundits seemed to enjoy pointing out how much Allen was making for a mere half-season of work, almost as if he had purposely thrown himself in front of Mike Epstein.

One such critic was Abe Gibron, head coach of the Bears. Honest Abe took time out from his team, which he had guided to a 4-9-1 record in 1972, to bash Allen and the organization. He held up Allen as an example of what happens when an organization leans too heavily one one player.

"It had to happen. Allen has ruined that team" he said.

Allen did have one defender in the media. Robert Markus got his fill of the swill that flowed forth from his ink-stained brethren and used his own column to cut loose. He wrote that people were passing judgment on Allen based on his past reputation.

He then took his fellow media members to task, writing "Thus it is too, that throughout the country countless sportswriters have snidely divided Allen's 250 times at bat into his reported $250,000 annual salary and figured out that Dick made a tidy $900 each time he stepped to the plate in his aborted 1973 season. [NOTE: about $4,900 in 2017 money]

"They write it as if there is something shameful in Allen's taking the money while sidelined with the aftereffects of a broken left leg. Some of these same writers who would knock a man who got hurt doing his job have been known to miss a deadline or two because they were too hungover to work.

None of them have ever been known to return their salary for days they've been sick and unable to turn out their copy.

Nor was it ever suggested that the Bears' Gale Sayers give back his salary the year his knee-and ultimately his career-was shattered midway through the season. Nobody ever accused Sayers of 'ruining the team.'

But then, Sayers didn't have Allen's reputation, either."

Markus acknowledged that Allen's response to fans who were abusing him in Philadelphia was an immature one, but there was no indication that he had been the same way in St. Louis or Los Angeles.

He pointed out what horrible shape the team was in when Allen arrived in town and how he injected life into it. "For what he had done as much for the promise of what he would do, he deserved the record contract he received this year."

Markus concludes by saying "It would be senseless to take such a risk [of playing Allen] at the tag end of a ruined season. Just as senseless as blaming Allen for being hurt or for what has happened to the White Sox this year."
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