MLB Hall of Fame: Their mortality brought them immortality

PITTSBURGH, PA - CIRCA 1976: Dick Allen #15 of the Philadelphia Phillies and Willie Stargell #8 of the Pittsburgh Pirates stand next to each other during an Major League Baseball game circa 1976 at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Allen played for the Phillies from 1963-69 and 1975-76. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - CIRCA 1976: Dick Allen #15 of the Philadelphia Phillies and Willie Stargell #8 of the Pittsburgh Pirates stand next to each other during an Major League Baseball game circa 1976 at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Allen played for the Phillies from 1963-69 and 1975-76. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) /

If Dick Allen is elected next year, he will hardly be the first to be enshrined in the MLB Hall of Fame soon after his death

If Dick Allen, who died Monday, is – as many expect — elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame next year, he will be only the latest in a string of stars whose immortality appeared to have been enhanced by their mortality.

Allen is considered one of the most likely candidates for enshrinement when the “Golden Days” committee convenes a year from now. Allen was most recently on a Veterans Committee ballot in 2015. He – and Tony Oliva – led the field, but both fell one vote short of election.

Between 1983 and 1997, Allen’s candidacy was considered 14 times by the Baseball Writers Association of America, but he never emerged as a leading candidate. In fact, under present rules, his name would have been removed from the ballot in 1983, when he was supported by just 3.7 percent in his first year of eligibility.

Allen’s candidacy peaked at 18.9 percent in 1996, when he finished 11th. He was a career .292 batter with 351 home runs and 1,119 RBIs over a 15-season career. Playing for the Chicago White Sox, Allen led the American League in both home runs (37) and RBIs (113) in 1972, and led again in home runs in 1974, when he hit 32.

He played nine of his 15 seasons with the Philadelphia in two stints, 1963 through 1969 and 1975-76.

Allen played in one post-season series, the 1976 NLCS, which his Phillies lost to the Cincinnati Reds.

As maudlin as it sounds, Hall decision-makers have a long history of overlooking a candidate until his death, and then suddenly sweeping him into enshrinement. At least a half dozen times in the course of the Hall’s history, candidates lingered on the ballot well into old age without receiving the necessary support, then were elected at the earliest opportunity following their mortality.

We’re not talking here about enshrinees like Roberto Clemente or Lou Gehrig, who were quickly inducted in circumstances anticipating or immediately following an early death. Nor does it consider non-players such  as Marvin Miller, who was elected last year following his death, which followed many years of consideration of his candidacy.

Here’s a look at one of the Hall’s oddest, most awkward, election tendencies…one that may find Dick Allen next in the starring role.