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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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September 14,1974

Posted 01-15-2018 at 09:51 PM by TommyJohn
Updated 03-24-2018 at 09:07 AM by TommyJohn

September 14,1974

DICK ALLEN QUITS

I remember this Saturday afternoon very well. It was a warm day with plenty of sunshine. My aunt got married, and although I was only five years old I can recall some of the events of that day very clearly.

While I was partying with my family, Dick Allen drove to the ballpark with a sense of purpose. He hadn't been playing much in the past couple weeks and was nursing a cold. The night before, Friday the 13th, he had gone to the top-owner John Allyn, and told him of his problems and that he was thinking of quitting. Allyn gave Allen a lecture and told him "this isn't slavery. You can leave any time you want to."

Allen went into the clubhouse, cleaned out his locker and paid off the attendants-two rituals usually done at the end of the season. He took batting practice, then went through a pregame workout. Then, with the team in the clubhouse, Allen announced to them all that he was retiring from baseball. He gave a speech in which he told them that they would be a good team. He choked up as he told them that it was difficult to walk away from a game he had played since he was small.

He said a few words in private to Tanner, then the two men embraced. Allen left the ballpark and drove away. And just like that, the player who had brought excitement and fans back to White Sox Park was gone.

The reasons given for Allen's walking away are many and various. Allen himself said that he just lost interest in the game. Tanner admitted to the media that Allen had talked about quitting more than once in the previous few weeks. Allen appeared to have walked away out of sheer boredom.

Years later, other reasons for his retiring were given. Allen told the co-writer of his autobiography "Crash" that he was discouraged with the lack of progress of the Sox' rebuilding program and felt they were further away from a World Series than when he had arrived. There was also tension between him and Ron Santo.

"Santo thought himself a Chicago institution because he had played all those years across town with the Cubs" Allen sniffed. "He thought he should be team leader automatically. "

Allen talked of how he had taken the quiet, sensitive Jorge Orta under his wing and mentored him. "Now here comes Santo, acting the grizzled veteran, barking at everyone and rattling everybody's cage." Allen said. He described an incident where Orta booted a grounder and Santo, having learned nothing from the Don Young controversy, was yelling at him. Allen angrily confronted Santo and told him "instead of yelling at Georgie, why don't you teach him a few things?"

Allen said Santo responded by sneering at him.

"After that, I had no time for Santo" Allen said. "He was feeling washed up and it showed. The tension between me and Santo spread to the other guys in the clubhouse. We stopped being a team. I was still hitting the ball, and hitting it good. But we weren't winning and we weren't having any fun."

One recent Allen biographer, Mitchell Nathanson, wrote that Allen came to view the White Sox as no different than the other teams he played for-they were exploiting him in order to sell tickets. They didn't care if they won or lost, just as long as they drew a million at the gate and made money off his name.

Tanner recalled years later that Allen was hurting. He had several injuries, including a bad shoulder that had traveled to his back. Allen was trying to play through them, as the "malingerer" rap hung on him by the former team doctor still stung.

Tanner may not have been just making excuses. As stated, Allen hadn't been playing much in the days leading up to the 14th. Plus, he hadn't homered since August 16th (he still led the AL in homers despite that).

Getting back to 1974, Tanner put on a happy face, despite Allen walking out on him and the team. "Richie Allen is the greatest player I have ever seen." He said.

Allen was placed on the voluntarily retired list, making him ineligible to play for 60 days-meaning that if he wanted to come back in 1975, he couldn't play until mid-May.

Tanner and Hemond were asked about the possibility of Allen returning in 1975. Tanner expressed his doubts, while Hemond said "only Allen can answer that."
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