In the Game pp 19-46 | Cite as

“Richie” Allen, Whitey’s Ways, and Me: A Political Education in the 1960s

  • Matthew Frye Jacobson


“Disrespect” would be a euphemism. Dick Allen was unanimously renamed “Richie” in 1960 by a white press wholly indifferent to the young ballplayer’s protestations that everyone from his mother on down had always called him “Dick.” Later, when Allen finally did insist upon his rightful name after several years of patiently accepting what he thought a vaguely racist diminutive, the press variously ignored his request, spitefully granted it (“Dick ‘Don’t Call Me Richie’ Allen”), or—worse—depicted the “name-change” as an emblem of Allen’s unstable character (as in: “in mid-career he became, adamantly, ‘Dick.’” Sports Illustrated referred to this as Allen’s “first name sensitivity.”)1 Fans in Philadelphia delighted in throwing objects at Allen—pennies, chicken bones, batteries, bolts, half pints— and when he took to wearing a batting helmet in the field, the press intimated that he needed the protection because he was bad with a glove. Allen twice appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated: once in 1970 under the heading “Baseball in Turmoil” (a reference to Curt Flood’s challenge to baseball’s reserve clause, but Allen was the sport’s better poster boy for “turmoil”), and once in 1972, smoking what remains the only cigarette in the history of SI covers.


Major League Baseball Black Panther Party Chicken Bone National League Racial Climate 
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© Amy Bass 2005

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  • Matthew Frye Jacobson

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