NCAA MEN’S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT-SUNDAY
#5 Seton Hall 69 #1 Baylor 67
#2 Maryland 80 #6 Michigan 71
#1 Dayton 76 #5 Ohio State 63
#3 Michigan State 69 #10 USC 56
#4 Louisville vs. #11 Indiana
#1 Gonzaga vs. #3 Kentucky
#5 Seton Hall vs. #2 Maryland
#1 Dayton vs. #3 Michigan State
Boxing Hall of Fame postpones induction weekend due to COVID-19
The International Boxing Hall of Fame postponed its induction ceremony scheduled for June 14 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Dan Rafael of ESPN.
This year’s class will now be inducted alongside the 2021 group next June 10 to 13.
“By combining the celebrations of the induction classes of 2020 and 2021, the Hall of Fame can honor inductees with all the bells and whistles that the Hall of Fame weekend is known for and provide each inductee with the recognition they each so richly deserve,” International Boxing Hall of Fame executive director Edward Brophy said. “By honoring the two classes in a one-of-a-kind induction weekend, the Hall of Fame will be able to put all the winning combinations together for the inductees, fans and the entire sport of boxing.”
Bernard Hopkins, Juan Manuel Marquez, “Sugar” Shane Mosley, Christy Martin, and Lucia Rijker are among the notable names in the 2020 class.
Marbury working on deal to ship 10M masks from China to New York
Former NBA and Chinese Basketball Association All-Star Stephon Marbury is attempting to broker a deal between New York and a supplier in China that would deliver 10 million N95 masks to the state at well below market cost, he told the New York Post’s Rich Calder.
The masks would go toward first responders and hospital workers.
Marbury said his supplier is prepared to sell the masks “at cost” for $2.75 each. Vendors in New York are quoting the masks at $7.50 apiece, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office said recently, courtesy of Bloomberg’s Bob Ivry and Brandon Kochkodin.
Marbury, a former Knicks guard and a native of the state, said the price gouging and the low supply for medical workers convinced him to take action.
“At the end of the day, I am from Brooklyn,” he told Calder. “This is something that is close and dear to my heart as far as being able to help New York.”
Marbury added: “I have family there in Coney Island, a lot of family … who are affected by this, so I know how important it is for people to have masks during this time.”
Despite his efforts, Marbury has endured some difficulties while trying to connect with the appropriate officials in New York. He spoke with Brooklyn Borough president Eric Adams, but Adams initially said officials told him they didn’t need the masks.
The New York Post then contacted the state’s Department of Health and was told health officials do, in fact, want to speak with Marbury, according to Calder. Some progress is now reportedly being made.
The 43-year-old Marbury is currently a head coach in the Chinese Basketball Association following a memorable playing career in the country, though he spent plenty of time in New York and the surrounding area during a 13-year stint in the NBA.
New York has been one of the hardest-hit states by the COVID-19 outbreak. There have been 672 deaths in New York City alone due to the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Rutgers lands Omoruyi, best recruit in years, partly due to impact of virus
Four-star center Cliff Omoruyi has verbally committed to Rutgers, he confirmed to Rivals.com’s Corey Evans on Sunday.
The 6-foot-10 big man from Montclair, N.J. is the top high school recruit to join the Scarlett Knights in years. Omoruyi is currently ranked 49th on the 2020 ESPN 100 prospect board, making him the highest-ranked Rutgers recruit since Mike Rosario committed to the program in 2008.
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted Omoruyi’s decision to stay in New Jersey.
“The big difference was the coronavirus,” his guardian, Mohamed Oliver, told Rivals.com. “Once it hit, it kind of gave him a real meaning of what distance really is.
“Once all that stuff started to happen and everyone started to be quarantined, the first thing that was said was what would happen if this thing happened if he was out in Arizona. It all just started to make more sense to him with what he wanted.”
Rutgers is coming off its most successful campaign in decades. The team’s 20-11 (.645) record was its best showing since the 1982-83 season. Rutgers also ranked in the top 25 of the AP Poll for the first time since 1978-79, peaking as the nation’s 24th-ranked program. Head coach Steve Pikiell earned a two-year extension for his role in the turnaround, ensuring his presence at Rutgers through at least the 2025-26 season.
However, the team’s postseason dreams were dashed earlier this month after the cancellation of both the Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Tournament because of the ongoing health crisis.
Georgetown’s McClung declares for NBA draft, will maintain eligibility
McClung added that he’ll hire an agent who’s certified by the NCAA, which means he’ll be eligible to return to Georgetown if he removes his name from the draft.
In his sophomore season during 2019-20, McClung averaged 15.7 points and 2.4 assists in 21 games.
He’s also garnered a notable online following thanks in part to his strong dunking ability. McClung currently has more than 714,000 followers on Instagram, where he received over a million views for a single post featuring his best highlights as a freshman.
Before heading to Georgetown, McClung was a high school star in Virginia. He broke the state’s single-season scoring record that was previously held by Allen Iverson, doing so in five fewer games than the Hall of Famer.
In his text message to Givony, the 20-year-old McClung said he hopes to use the draft process to receive feedback from NBA teams and connect with them “on a more personal level.”
Despite the indefinite suspension of the 2019-20 season, the NBA has not announced any changes to the draft, which is currently scheduled for June 25.
Indiana Pacers: Re-grading Malcolm Brogdon sign-and-trade
The Indiana Pacers secured Malcolm Brogdon this summer by way of a sign and trade. Let’s reflect on how that signing has panned out.
The Indiana Pacers secured a piece of their future this offseason when they signed Malcolm Brogdon to a four-year, $85 million contract, a contract Brogdon certainly deserved after joining the 50-40-90 club in his third season in the league.
The way Indiana secured Brogdon was relatively unconventional. While most teams with their sights set on him would have simply submitted an offer sheet and waited for the Bucks to match or forego the ability to match (Brogdon was a restricted free agent, meaning Milwaukee could have kept him if they matched outside offers), the Pacers bartered with the Bucks to promise they landed Brogdon.
So, Brogdon gets his payday, the Bucks don’t see Brogdon walk for nothing in return, and the Pacers get their guy.
The qualm you might have with this is the fact that the Pacers forfeited a first-round draft pick and two second-rounders for a guy they could have gotten for simply cap space. That’s assuming, however, that Milwaukee wouldn’t have matched the offer Indiana extended and that there would have been an optimal use for that money ($20 million on the books this year) elsewhere in the point guard slot from the free market.
The premium available guards (Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker) had their sights set on larger markets. Some of the one-way guards like D’Angelo Russell wouldn’t have fit with the Pacers’ vision.
Maybe the only alternative might have been Ricky Rubio, which, okay, not a bad fit in my opinion for the Pacers.
Then, however, you’re assuming Rubio would rather play in Indiana than the warm weather of Phoenix for about the same price (and $16 million per year feels like a bit of an overpay for Rubio).
That brings you down to two options — forfeit some assets to guarantee you get your guy or gamble with the possibility you are stuck with a Rubio-type at best.
An underrated part of this, too, is the fact that this keeps the bond strong between Pacers President Kevin Pritchard, the Bucks front office, and Malcolm Brogdon’s agent Danielle Cantor.
Players and agents around the league take note too, and subtle things like being willing to part with assets to get a player are not just empty noble things to do, they are bartering chips for the future. It can help the Pacers gain a more lucrative deal with a free agent or come to an amicable extension with a player down the road if the team is viewed as caring about the well-being of its players.
The reputation element, while not directly pertinent to Brogdon and the specifics of his signing, is absolutely important here, and the direct payoffs of that won’t be very clear but should be kept in mind.
2020 NBA Draft Big Board: Top 30 player rankings, scouting reports
The 2020 NBA Draft is a guard-heavy class but still features a solid mix of prospects. Where do they fit in our Top-30 Big Board?
There has been much made about the 2020 NBA Draft class being one of the weakest in recent memory and the uncertainty surrounding the draft due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the US has made this one of the weirder draft evaluation periods in the history of the league. The 2019-20 NBA season is still suspended and not officially canceled but even with that, prospects are slowly starting to declare their intentions to enter the 2020 NBA Draft.
The 2020 class is guard-heavy, especially up top. Three of the players in my top five are guards and that number becomes even more pronounced when you expand that to the top-10. It was even more odd draft evaluation year because of how spread out the elite prospects were. Players like LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton eschewed NCAA basketball in favor of playing pro basketball in the NBL in Australia. Memphis star James Wiseman only played 69 total minutes before his career was ended. The NCAA came down on Wiseman for $11.5K in moving expenses from Penny Hardaway and he, in turn, withdrew from the university and signed with an agent.
Anthony Edwards, a player some consider the consensus No. 1 pick, played for a lackluster Georgia team. Edwards’ squad finished 13th in the SEC despite his impressive individual figures. With the 2020 NBA Draft class being shrouded in so much more uncertainty than usual, there will be many opportunities for NBA teams to snag a steal. With no NCAA Tournament this year, this big board consists of my top-30 players in the 2020 NBA Draft based off of a combination of versatility, college /pro production, and long-term ceiling.
- Daniel Oturu, Minnesota
20 years old | Center | 6-foot-10 | 185 lbs
Stats (SO): 20.1 ppg (.563/.365/.707), 11.3 rpg, 2.5 bpg
Daniel Oturu is a center who has really turned a corner in his sophomore season at Minnesota. He is an excellent finisher and skilled scorer from the low-post and mid-post areas on the court. Oturu’s jumper has expanded to the 3-point line this year (34.7% on 3.2 3-point attempts per 100 possessions) and he has increased his True Shooting percentage (TS %) to 62.4% despite a big leap in usage rate. Combine Oturu’s potential as a rim-protector (7.6% block rate) with his stretch-five potential and you have the makings of a worthy first-round big. Oturu may get powered through by the stronger bigs in the league but his perimeter shooting gives him the possibility of sliding down to the four for stretches. He could be an intriguing late-round steal.
- Paul Reed, DePaul
20 years old | Power forward | 6-foot-9 | 220 lbs
Stats (JR): 15.1 ppg (.516/.308/.738), 10.7 rpg, 2.6 bpg
While age is obviously a huge factor in the NBA Draft process, it shouldn’t stop you from drafting a player you think can be a difference-maker from the start. Paul Reed fits that description to a ‘T’. In his junior season at DePaul, Reed has transformed himself into an absolute beast on the defensive end of the floor. He utilizes his massive wingspan and leaping ability to smother shots at the rim. Reed also excels at getting into passing lanes on D, and if he gets his mitts on the ball he can quickly turn defense into offense in transition. If his 3-point shooting—which took a dip to 21.4% on 0.5 attempts per game this season—can get back to previous above 30% levels in the NBA, he will greatly outperform this slot.
- Jalen Smith, Maryland
20 years old | Power forward | 6-foot-10 | 225 lbs
Stats (SO): 15.5 ppg (.538/.368/.750), 10.5 rpg, 2.4 bpg
Jalen Smith may appear to be quite the wiry forward but he is deceptively strong. Smith excels as a rebounder and shot-blocker, and with the way the NBA is sizing down, Smith should be able to function quite well as a rim protector. Offensively, Smith is an excellent finisher at the rim and will do well in the league off of cuts and as a roll man. He is quick enough to beat opposing bigs from a faceup/triple-threat position and his improvement as a 3-point shooter makes him capable of manning two of the forward spots (and three in an ideal world) offensively. But despite Smith’s deceptive strength that will allow him to rebound well and function in the paint, he still will struggle with some of the more physical 4 and 5 men in the league, which will ultimately limit his usage.
- Precious Achiuwa, Memphis
20 years old | Power forward | 6-foot-9 | 223 lbs
Stats (SO): 15.8 ppg (.493/.325/.599), 10.8 pg, 1.9 bpg
Precious Achiuwa is extremely fast, especially in terms of speed on straight-line drives and in transition and it feels like the best place to start with his draft prospects. It is easy to imagine Achiuwa as a mismatch nightmare in the NBA. He uses his intriguing combination of speed and strength to bruise his way to the rim à la Julius Randle. Despite his productivity and ability to dominate as a small ball-5, the are still enough legit concerns about Achiuwa’s pro prospects. He has an over 7-foot wingspan but his lack of touch on offense and terrible free-throw shooting on (58.4%) on high-volume limits his ceiling.
- Vernon Carey Jr., Duke
19 years old | Center | 6-foot-1 | 270 lbs
Stats (FR): 17.8 ppg (.577/.381/.670), 8.8 pg, 1.6 bpg
Vernon Carey Jr. is one of my favorite prospects, mostly because he seems like an upperclassman NCAA prospect from 1999 who stepped into a time machine and came out an walked right onto Duke’s campus in 2020. Carey is a bruising back-to-the-basket low-post scorer who has some intriguing tools in the toolbox. Despite being a player who succeeds best when he gets a post touch with his man sealed deep in the paint, Carey has flashed the ability to hit the 3-point shot on low volume and beat opposing bigs off the dribble.
Carey’s ability to score in a variety of ways is evident. Small improvements in his passing help him look even better as a prospect. Carey is a solid rim-protector as well but Duke has went zone with him on the backline often. If Carey can become an average pick-and-roll defender (or even just below average) in the NBA, the idea of him as a starting big man down the road isn’t too far-fetched considering his physical tools.
- Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Villanova
19 years old | Power forward | 6-foot-9 | 232 lbs
Stats (FR): 10.5 ppg (.453/.328/.814), 9.4 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.1 spg
Villanova had yet another top-3 finish in the Big East and the play of freshman Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is a big reason. The McDonald’s All-American has a skill set that could see him develop nicely in the NBA, lack of elite explosion/athleticism aside. Robinson-Earl makes some solid passes, especially from the post, but still has a quite high (19.0%) turnover rate. Cleaning up the mistakes will go a long way for Robinson-Earl, as he is a good post scorer with a soft touch.
He shot over 30% from the 3-point line and over 80% from the free-throw line this season. Robinson-Earl is also a great defender. He is mobile and has demonstrated the ability to move well laterally and go for steals with his long arms (2.0% steal rate), which will ultimately aid his ability to get (limited) NBA minutes early on in his career.
- Tre Jones, Duke
20 years old | Point guard | 6-foot-3 | 185 lbs
Stats (SO): 16.2ppg (.423/.361/.771), 4.2 rpg, 6.4 apg
Tre Jones is perhaps the best perimeter defender in the country, something that is backed up by his recent ACC Defensive Player of the Award. And that is the start of his case to be a strong first-round draft choice in June. Jones has an elite 2.9% steal rate over his two seasons at Duke and was the primary reason Duke was able to stifle so many offenses this year. But at this point, no one in the NBA doubts Jones’ ability to survive on the defensive end of the floor.
Tre’s biggest weakness is his outside shooting, which despite some improvements, is still going to be a question mark heading into the draft. In the 2019-20 season, he shot 36.1% on 3-pointers, 77.1% from the free throw line, and most impressive, Jones improved on his efficiency on midrange/2-point jumpers (38.3%) despite the fact that almost all of those shots (95.2%) were unassisted. His finishing in the paint was decent but was much better his freshman year when flanked by RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson, which is obviously a better representation of the kind of talent he will be surrounded by at the NBA level. With his playmaking and ability to hit shots from the midrange, Jones will make a fine backup PG with the possibility of evolving into much more should the 3-point shooting improvement prove to be real.
- Jahm’ius Ramsey, Texas Tech
18 years old | Shooting guard | 6-foot-4 | 195 lbs
Stats (FR): 15.0ppg (.442/.426/.641), 4.0 rpg, 2.2 apg
Jahm’ius Ramsey is already a very nicer scorer at 18 years old. He is averaging 28.3 points per 100 possessions with a 54.6 true shooting percentage.
Ramsey’s 23.3% free throw rate is fine for a prospect who relies on jumpers as much as he does but he obviously needs to improve from the charity stripe, something reflected in the so-so true shooting percentage. What makes Ramsey an upside play beside his age is the fact that he has great two-way potential. Despite a high-usage rate on offense (26.2%), Ramsey maintained a tidy steal (2.5%) and block rate (2.5%) over his 842 minutes of regular season play. He shows playmaking skills but can develop tunnel vision because of his obvious talent on offense.
Ramsey isn’t the most explosive leaper and may have some trouble finishing in the lane at the NBA level. Being a bit of a tweener/combo guard, Ramsey is going to need to play next to a capable, veteran playmaker to take advantage of his shooting ability as he adjusts to NBA defenses. He may get powered through in the paint by bigger guard/wings at the beginning of his career, but the tools are there for Ramsey to become a two-way, impact player.
- Matthew Hurt, Duke
19 years old | Power forward | 6-foot-9 | 214 lbs
Stats (FR): 9.7 ppg (.487/.393/.741), 3.8 rpg, 0.9 apg, 0.7 bpg
Every team in the NBA is at least a bit intrigued by a young big with clear stretch-four potential but 19-year old Matthew Hurt has the potential to be much more. Hurt shot 67% at the rim per Hoop-Math.com and did that while being efficient from 3-point and the free throw line. He showed off the ability to hit step-back and off the dribble jumpers when facing up plodding bigs. Hurt is pretty coordinated for his height, so he can also drive to the rim when mismatched on a smaller defender, easily shooting over the top of them.
The problem for Hurt at the NBA level will be dealing with the strength of post players. He showed some fight on defense, protecting the paint well (2.0% block rate) but Hurt fouled way too often. Hurt’s foul issues were connected to the lack of strength but again, he is very young and I wouldn’t worry about it too much at this stage of his development. Hurt is worth a first-round pick, even if he is used as a situational shooter. But as he gains strength and learns NBA defense, Hurt has the ability to play the 4 or the 5 in the league.
- Patrick Williams, Florida State
18 years old | Power forward | 6-foot-8 | 225 lbs
Stats (FR): 9.2ppg (.459/.320/.838), 4.0 rpg, 1.0 apg, 1.0 bpg, 1.0 spg
I like Patrick Williams a lot as a prospect and it starts with the fact that he is a good team defender on a top-15 KenPom defense. Williams’s advanced numbers on defense were noteworthy. He had a 2.5% steal rate and a 5.6% block rate and could be found covering for his teammates (very few) mistakes. He occasionally was blown by on defense quicker combo forwards, something that could be a bit of an issue at the NBA level. But I don’t think of Williams as a point-of-attack defender, so that doesn’t concern me as much.
Williams projects to be a solid shooter at the NBA level (projected 35.1% NBA 3PT% per Tankathon.com) and is an explosive athlete who is a solid enough ballhandler to pose a threat attacking closeouts. Regardless of what role he is asked to fit into from Day 1, Williams’ versatile skill set will allow him to grow into a rotation player on a winning team.
- Aaron Nesmith, Vanderbilt
20 years old | Shooting guard | 6-foot-6 | 213 lbs
Stats (SO): 23.0 ppg (.521/ .522/ .825), 4.9 rpg, 0.9 apg
Aaron Nesmith is one of the players who have a legit claim that they are the best shooter in the 200 NBA Draft class. His sophomore season was abbreviated by a foot injury (rumored to be a stress fracture) but he shot 52.2% from 3-point range on 115 total 3-point attempts over 14 games. At the time Nesmith went down, he was fifth in the nation in scoring, At the NBA-level, Nesmith shooting looks like it will clearly translate. He is a career 82.5% free throw shooter and in his sophomore season, improved his field goal percentage on 2-point jumpers (42.1).
Nesmith has enough wiggle to get to the get to the rim but his finishing leaves a lot to be desired. He will be able to translate to the NBA simply because he has the size to shoot over the top of many 2-guard defenders but again, his finishing was so-so, 59.1% at the rim over 46 career games. With his impressive size, Nesmith has always been capable of being a physical defender but this past season he started to really tap into his potential as a defensive playmaker. Over 500 minutes Nesmith had a career-high steal (2.3) and block rate (2.6). I believe he is a high-floor prospect who could be one of the steals of the draft if he puts it all together
- Romeo Weems, DePaul
18 years old | Shooting guard | 6-foot-7 | 210 lbs
Stats (SO): 8.0 ppg (.427/.365/.607), 4.9 rpg, 1.7 apg
DePaul started off hot this season, looking like they were going to be the surprise of the Big East. But things came crashing down to earth all at once for the Blue Demons as they lost five games in a row, upset then No. 5 Butler, and then lost eight straight. It was a rough season for DePaul, but much of their success can be attributed to Paul Reed (No. 29) and Romeo Weems. He is an extremely athletic freshman who shocked the world by going o DePaul over some bigger name programs. Weems lacks polish but he is already an intense defender who can make plays in the open court.
Weems maintained an impressive 2.4% steal rate and a 3.1% block rate as a 6-foot-7 wing player. He will likely develop into a menace on defense but Weems 54.1% shooting at the rim leaves much room for improvement. Weems shot 36.5% on 74 attempts from 3-point range last year despite having a terrible free throw percentage (60.7%). Even with a lot of questions marks/inconsistencies, Weems’ obvious 3-and-D potential makes him a worthy selection in the first round.
- Theo Maledon, LDLC ASVEL
18 years old | Point guard | 6-foot-3 | 170 lbs
Stats: 7.2 ppg (.421/.333/.776), 1.9 rpg, 2.7 apg
Theo Maledon’s main draw is his age. At just 18 years old, Maledon has a ton of growth left both literally and figuratively. The 6-foot-4 guard can make just about every pass and maintained an incredibly high 27.3% assist rate over 46 games for ASVEK Lyon-Villeurbanne.
Maledon had a 55.1% true shooting percentage and a solid 38% free throw rate. Maledon will struggle to finish in the paint at the NBA level, so his ability to generate offense from the midrange area will be key to his upside. Despite a dip in free throw percentage, I trust Maledon’s shooting, I just think it will take some time for him to make a real impact at the NBA level. But due to his playmaking prowess and shooting ability, Maledon is clearly worth the investment.
- Devin Vassell, Florida State
19 years old | Wing | 6-foot-6 | 180 lbs
Stats (SO): 12.7 ppg (.490/.415/.738), 5.1 rpg, 1.6 apg
Florida State won the regular-season ACC title and was peaking as one of the best teams in the country heading into March. The Seminoles played incredibly tough defense with the versatile 6-foot-7 Vassell playing a big part. In the 2019-20 season, Vassell had a 2.8% steal rate and a 4.1% block rate while also functioning as Florida State’s best shooter. Vassell hit 41.5% of his 3s last year and 41.7% of his 3-pointers for his career. He has shown the ability to hit 3-pointers coming off of screens and on catch-and-shoot attempts. Over the last two seasons, Vassell saw almost no difference in his 3-point percentage despite a 12.1% decrease in assisted 3-pointers. He has the confidence as a shooter to develop his one-one-one scoring moves, and Vassell serves a variety of purposes on offense since he is extremely athletic for a player who has so much skill as a perimeter shooter.
Without a ton of production off of the dribble or as a passer, Vasseell looks like a surefire bet to be a power forward with the ability to guard three-to-four positions as he adds strength. In a draft class as weak as this year’s class, Vassell is probably a lottery talent but because I think his offensive role will be limited albeit valuable, I have him at No. 17.
- Jaden McDaniels, Washington
19 years old | Power forward | 6-foot-9 | 200 lbs
Stats (FR): 13 ppg (.493/.325/.599), 5.8 rpg, 2.1 apg
Jaden McDaniels is one of the players who maintains his position on the draft board almost all based off of potential. The near 6-foot-10 McDaniels got the same ridiculous comparisons to Kevin Durant that every young lanky forward does but he is nonetheless rounding into an intriguing prospect.
McDaniels, similar to RJ Barrett at Duke, didn’t show the “wiggle,” or necessary East-West change of direction to beat solid defenders off the dribble. Despite this, McDaniels managed to be a solid scorer, racking up 16.7 points per 40 minutes. Despite being advertised as a dynamite scorer coming out of high school, he only shot 33.9% from the 3-point line and an unimpressive 55.9% at the rim. His most impressive thing at Washington was his defensive production. McDaniels collected 24 steals and 43 blocks over 31 games. The Huskies played a lot of zone defense, so there are concerns over whether his defense will translate. But his physical tools give him enough versatility to have some clear use from Day 1 on defense. If his off the dribble shotmaking and inside scoring ability—which is there, in spurts—catches up with his defense, McDaniels will be a two-way force. But his frame makes him more of a “wait-and-see” prospect.
- Kira Lewis, Alabama
18 years old | Point guard | 6-foot-3 | 165 lbs
Stats (SO): 18.5 ppg (.459/.366/.802), 4.8 rpg, 5.2 apg
Kira Lewis Jr. is a dynamite scorer, who averaged 25.8 points per 100 possessions in the 2019-20 season for Alabama. This past season was the first year for new head coach Nate Oats and he had the Crimson Tide playing very different on offense. After shooting 718 total 3-pointers (204th) in the 2018-19 season, Oats had ‘Bama 4th in the country in 3-point attempts in 2019-20, taking a whopping 957 attempts from 3-point range over 31 games. In the wake of the offensive shift, rather than become a more selfish player, Lewis showed why he can thrive as an NBA lead guard.
Lewis is likely the fastest player in the 2020 NBA Draft class. On top of being able to go coast-to-coast in a blur, Lewis is a great 3-point shooter and solid pull-up shooter. Over his two years at Alabama, he hit 36.2%of his 3-point attempts with a decent amount of them being very difficult attempts. At the NBA level, Lewis will be able to leverage his great speed and athleticism into open shots for his teammates, even as it takes time for him to understand higher-level reads. At just a reported 165 lbs., I worry about Lewis’ ability to finish at the rim, avoid injury, and defend. But with a 2.5% steal rate, I believe Lewis gives enough effort on defense for it to not outweigh his many positive offensive contributions.
- Josh Green, Arizona
19 years old | Wing | 6-foot-6 | 210 lbs
Stats (FR): 12 ppg (.493/.325/.599), 4.6 rpg, 2.6 apg
Arizona was a top-15 defense this past defense per KenPom and a big part of it was the defensive versatility of Josh Green. At 6-foot-6 with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, Green is a very capable switch defender. Green is physical to boot and maintained a 2.8% steal rate and a 1.6% block rate over 926 minutes. While his awesome athletic tools were primarily used on defense, Green used his explosiveness to dominate around the basket (63.5% shooting at the rim). He underwhelmed as a rebounder but I would surmise a decent amount of that is due to the time spent guarding No. 1 options.
Because of the ease of which Green changes directions, I believe he will hold up quite well on guards and his strength and length will allow him to frustrate lanky forwards (and weaker centers) too. On offense, though Green served as a complementary player, he was a darn good one. Green scored 22.1 points per 100 possessions and hitting 36.1% of his 3-point shots despite his form needing some work. With the size and strength to guard from Day 1 in the NBA and the athleticism and IQ to find ways to score, expect Green to sneak into the lottery.
- Deni Avdija, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv (Israel)
19 years old | Small forward | 6-foot-9 | 215 lbs
Stats: 7.7 ppg (.493/.325/.599), 4.1 rpg, 1.7 apg
Deni Avidja has an excellent feel for the game and it shows up almost immediately on tape. You have to actually watch full games or specific highlight reels to find evidence of Aavdija’s passing prowess, as it doesn’t immediately show up in a good assist percentage that is still lower than his turnover rate. At 6-foot-9, Avdija is a point forward with legit size who can also score efficiently to boot. Avdija finished with an extremely impressive 58.7% true shooting percentage this past season (over 47 games).
Even with legit concerns about his lateral movement on defense, there is no doubt in my mind that Avdija will be a successful NBA player, I am just wary of if he will end up being the type of prospect worthy of being a top-5 pick. I suspect that Avdija will get a bit of a bump if there is a lack of workouts leading up the 2020 NBA Draft, as he is more of a known commodity on the international circuit as compared to some of the ballyhooed NCAA freshmen.
Avdija has a nice form on his jump shot and though he only hit 33.6% of his 3-pointers last season, that percentage was reportedly brought down by him taking a considerable amount of heaves. Since he clearly has the size to hold up defensively, an NBA team will be happy to have Avdija’s high basketball-IQ, floor-raising game in their lineup.
- RJ Hampton, New Zealand Breakers
19 years old | Point guard | 6-foot-5 | 188 lbs
Stats: 8.8 ppg (.407/.295/.679), 3.9 rpg, 2.4 apg
RJ Hampton shocked the basketball world when he chose to play for the New Zealand Breakers over playing college basketball. Hampton played 21 minutes per game for the Breakers and was perhaps the team’s best playmaker at the young age of 19. Hampton shot an unimpressive 29.4% from the 3-point line but mostly served as an on-ball player in his time on the floor. Though he only shot 73.7% from the free throw line, Hampton’s jump shot form appears to be projectable to NBA 3-point range.
At this point, he functions at his best in the midrange area with a live dribble. Hampton will be able to do damage against teams with a big man playing drop coverage but he will need to develop a counter to the many, many NBA squads that will go under on screens, daring Hampton to shoot off the dribble jumpers. Hampton has the length and athleticism to pull off impressive finishes at the rim despite not quite having NBA strength.
Despite not being one of the primary scoring options on his team, Hampton is averaging 9.5 points per game. His reported 6-foot-7 wingspan allows him to finish over the top of most guard defenders, and if you have to commit a bigger, wing-sized defender to Hampton, he will find the mismatch and get them the ball. Hampton has the basketball-IQ to be an impact player from Day 1, but his strength and 3-point shot will need to come along considerably for him to stand out in a packed class in terms of guards. Even with his flaws, Hampton is a clear top-10 talent in a weak overall class despite me having him at No. 12, which has more to do about him being more of a long-term play.
- Nico Mannion, Arizona
19 years old | Point guard | 6-foot-3 | 179 lbs
Stats (FR): 14 ppg (.392/.327/.797), 2.5 rpg, 5.3 apg
There has been much discussion over whether or not Mannion is going to enter the 2020 NBA Draft or return for what would no doubt be a strong sophomore season at Arizona. Mannion could use an extra year in college to improve from a physicality standpoint, as avoiding being pushed around on both sides of the floor is going to be his biggest struggle early on in the NBA. As far as strength goes, Mannion is no doubt one of the three best passers in this class (should he enter). He averaged 9.3 assists per 100 possessions and helped lead a very young Arizona team to top-35 offense via KenPom. While Mannion’s best skills are easily his passing and shooting–despite a so-so 3-point percentage of 32.7%–he has the ballhandling ability and athleticism necessary to breakdown defenders off the dribble and makes plays in the paint.
Mannion had a healthy 36.2% free throw rate despite being a player that relies on finesse. At the NBA level, Mannion will be able to function in a multi-guard offense as a player who will be able to thrive as a spot-up shooter or on-ball playmaker. Tankathon.com projects Mannion to have a 3-point percentage more in-line with his reputation (36%) and overall he looks like a prospect who will definitely raise any lineup’s offensive ceiling. Mannion’s ability as a clear-cut offensive engine will make him worth a high pick regardless of the very legit defense shortcomings.
- Obi Toppin, Dayton
20 years old | Power forward | 6-foot-9 | 220 lbs
Stats (SO): 20 ppg (.633/.390/.702), 7.5 rpg, 2.2 apg
Despite playing for a very successful Dayton squad, Obi Toppin was not a household name coming into the 2019-20 season but he certainly is now. The 6-foot-9 forward out of Brooklyn, New York had a dominant 2019-20 season and took home the USBWA (District V) Player of the Year award for his stellar season. Toppin averaged 20 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists on a remarkably efficient 68.4% true shooting percentage. Toppin only shot 70.2% from the free throw line on the season, with his true shooting % being lifted by his 39% shooting from 3-point range. That is a huge part of his appeal, as Toppin clearly projects to be at the very least, a productive inside-out threat at the NBA level.
In the league, Toppin will be a pick-and-pop threat as long as he is paired with a solid guard who has solid timing on PnR/PnP passes. Toppin is a solid screen setter with good footwork, which allows him to fluster a variety of big man defenders. While his jump shooting is impressive, Toppin’s dominant inside scoring—boosted by his big-time athleticism—is the basis of his game.
In the NBA Toppin will be able to score just off of getting out in transition and sealing his man in order to receive early post-entry passes. He is also a willing and skilled passer—though he needs to clean up his turnovers— who averaged 4.1 assists per 100 possessions over his two seasons at Dayton. While the offense will come easy, defense will present a steeper learning curve. Toppin maintained a great block rate (4.1%) last season but will need to cover significantly more ground laterally at the NBA level. With the belief that Toppin’s athleticism and coachability will allow him to be an above-average defender, he is easily a top-10 prospect in this class.
- Cole Anthony, North Carolina
19 years old | Point guard | 6-foot-3 | 184 lbs
Stats (FR): 18.5 ppg (.380/.348/.750), 5.7 rpg, 4.0 apg
Cole Anthony was a prospect that started off the 2019-20 season as someone many analysts thought would be a lock to be a top-3 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. But as we all know, a lot can change throughout a full NCAA basketball season and indeed things are much different now. Anthony is still a clear lottery talent and despite poor shooting numbers, he looked like a top-10 talent in the 2019-20 season.
Anthony was a fierce competitor who showed tremendous physicality on the court, especially for a guard. While he doesn’t box out every time down the floor, he averaged 5.7 rebounds per game. Anthony also showed no fear of contact going to the rim on offense, attempting 128 free throws over 22 games. Anthony’s confidence is perhaps his biggest strength and weakness. He can shoot his team out of games and will probably work best at the NBA level with another guard who can act as a primary or secondary playmaker until he comes further along as a passer, though he is solid now. Anthony’s 3-point shooting (34.5%) will improve with NBA floor spacing, as will his FG% at the rim (53.6%).
Only 8.1% of Anthony’s shots at the rim were assisted, while he maintained a 24.1% assist rate, easily the best on the team. This shows just how much Anthony created for himself and his teammates, as does his massive Russell Westbrook-like 30% usage rate. Anthony looks the part of a legit lead guard in the NBA because of his ability to be an offensive engine and he gives effort on defense though he will need to prove he can stay locked in on D even when his shot isn’t falling.
- James Wiseman, Memphis
18 years old | Center | 7-foot-1 | 237 lbs
Stats (FR): 19.7 ppg (.493/.325/.599), 10.7 rpg, 3.0 bpg
This is the ranking I believe will change the most between now and actual draft time. Wiseman isn’t someone I feel is necessarily, “the 8th best player in the draft,” this ranking is a reflection of Wiseman’s abbreviated season at Memphis both stunting his development and giving scouts less tape with which to evaluate his game. But even by just looking at his high school/AAU film and brief time at Memphis, it’s obvious that Wiseman’s measurables and athleticism give him the ability to be a high-impact big at the next level.
Over his 69 minutes of NCAA basketball, Wiseman averaged a staggering 5.3 blocks per 40 minutes, though the level of competition wasn’t great. With a reported 7-foot-6 wingspan and great speed for a prospect his size, Wiseman should be a solid rim protector at the NBA level whether he has to work inside of a drop-back system or a more active switching/har-hedging system. Offensively, Wiseman will be a devastating rim-runner but will need to prove his shooting upside is legitimate (70.4% free throw percentage) due to a lack of 3-point attempts at the college level. If there aren’t any individual workouts leading up to the 2020 NBA Draft, Wiseman will be perhaps the biggest wildcard in NBA draft history.
- Onyeka Okongwu, USC
19 years old | Power forward/Center | 6-foot-9 | 245 lbs
Stats (FR): 16.2 ppg (.493/.325/.599), 8.6 rpg, 2.7 bpg
In an NBA Draft class that is unlikely to have many wrong answers, Onyeka Okongwu is a player who presents enough Day 1 potential to be taken over Wiseman, who may offer more long-term upside than Okongwu, but that doesn’t change the fact that I believe Okongwu is the better overall player right now and that head start in development makes him the best big in the 2020 NBA Draft class. Okongwu was an extremely productive college basketball player, which matters a significant amount in my evaluations. Okongwu played the second-most minutes of anyone on USC (858) and the Trojans finished with a top-20 defense (per KenPom) with the 6-foot-9 freshman acting as their primary rim-protector. Okongwu racked up an elite 5.1 bocks per 100 possessions and maintained an 88.5 defensive rating.
Okongwu projects into a clear-cut role in the NBA that he should be able to produce in from the start as a rim-runner who finishes with authority (72.6% at rim). His high-motor was evident when he crashes the glass, especially offensively (12.4% offensive rebound rate). The combination of his offensive rebounding and his willingness as a passer will make him on/off standout on offense. Onyeka has great touch (41.5% on 2-point jump shots, 72% on free throws) that should allow him to develop a solid faceup game as a counter to his solid low-post game.
Again, I believe Okongwu is the best big in this draft class and I would spend a top-10 pick on him for his excellent pick-and-roll defense alone.
- Tyrese Haliburton, Iowa State
20 years old | Point guard | 6-foot-5 | 175 lbs
Stats (SO): 15.2 ppg (.504/.419/.822), 5.9 rpg, 6.5 apg
When I said that the 2020 NBA Draft class was guard-heavy, I wasn’t kidding and the group of guards that populate my top-20—and to a greater extent, my lottery—showcase this. Tyrese Haliburton is perhaps the best overall passer in the class. While the guard I have ranked ahead of Haliburton is, in my opinion, the best pick-and-roll passer in the draft, Haliburton can make every type of pass and excels at pass fakes to disguise his intended target.
Haliburton had a ridiculous 35.3% assist rate in his second season with the Cyclones, helping lead a top-50 (KenPom) offense despite his team only having one other double-digit scorer on his team. He understands how to use his length to finish at the basket, shooting 75% at the rim last year after shooting 86% at the rim in his freshman year. His scoring profile is varied as he is an elite 3-point shooter (42.6% from 3-point range for his career) despite an unconventional-looking form.
Before he can become an above-average defender at the NBA level he will obviously need to add strength. Haliburton also has a porous 17.3% free throw rate for his college career and if the jump shot isn’t falling, he probably won’t create much offense for himself at the NBA level. But as of now, Haliburton’s skills as an excellent passer and solid complementary scorer make him one of the five best guards in the 2020 NBA Draft.
- Killian Hayes
18 years old | Point guard | 6-foot-5 | 187 lbs
Stats: 15.8 ppg (.482/.294/.876), 2.8 rpg, 5.4 apg
As mentioned in the Tyrese Haliburton section, Killian Hayes is, in my opinion, the best pick-and-roll passer (and player) in the 2020 NBA Draft. The 18-year old French prospect plays for the team ratiopharm Ulm of the Basketball Bundesliga in Germany. Over 33 total games, Hayes had a 24.3% usage percentage with a massive 38.7% assist percentage. Hayes’ father was a professional ballplayer in the US (in the ABA, founded in 1999) and it shows in the ease with which the game comes to him. He is still a very hard-working prospect and the fact that he has room for growth in his game is what makes me so confident in him being an excellent pro.
Hayes’ shooting was up-and-down—a normal thing for such a young prospect—but he shot an impressive 39% from the 3-point line over 10 games in the Eurocup. Overall, Hayes had a 59.1% true shooting percentage in the 2019-20 season and looks like a player who with added muscle, will be an even better finisher at the rim one day. Hayes has to commit hard to defend at the NBA level but he is already physical on that end of the floor and gives effort, something evident in his 3.1% steal rate this season.
Hayes is able to score dependably at two levels of the floor, with a growing ability to the shoot the 3-point shot. He is one of the most skilled passers in this draft class, especially in the pick-and-roll, and he will defend and play off-ball if needed. Not much more you can ask for out of a prospect in the 2020 NBA Draft class.
- Isaac Okoro, Auburn
19 years old | Small forward | 6-foot-6 | 225 lbs
Stats (FR): 12.9 ppg (.514/.290/.672), 4.4 rpg, 2.0 apg
Isaac Okoro is the player in the 2020 NBA Draft class who most looks like he belongs in the league. At 6-foot-6, 225 lbs. with a reported 6-foot-8 and a half wingspan, Okoro has the clear body type to be a three-to-four position defender at the NBA level. Over 15 games, Okoro maintained a 1.7% steal rate and a 3.1% block rate. He could be a much better defensive rebounder but his low defensive rebound rate can also somewhat be attributed to the fact that he spent a decent amount of time guarding primary scoring options. The reason Okoro is one of the best prospects in this class is on top of the fact that he is someone who can function as both a great team and one-on-one defender, his elite explosiveness and athleticism show up in burst on offense, including his 67.8% shooting at the rim.
Okoro averaged 23.2 points per 100 possessions on 58.7% true shooting percentage. The key to Okoro unlocking his game at the highest level is his 3-point shot. He hit 67% of his free throws and 38.6% on 3-pointers, but he did hit an improved 32.6% of his 3-point shots in conference (SEC) play.
If Okoro puts altogether at the NBA level, he could evolve into an uber-athletic version of PJ Tucker, a two-way wrecking ball capable of turning the tide of a big game.
- Tyrese Maxey, Kentucky
19 years old | Guard | 6-foot-3 | 198 lbs
Stats (FR): 14 ppg (.427/.292/.833), 4.3 rpg, 3.2 apg
Tyrese Maxey is such an impressive prospect, there was a stretch this season where he was No. 1 on my big board. He eventually ended up losing his grasp on the top spot on the big board (and you’ll see to who soon) but he still did enough to be my No. 3 prospect this year. My reasons for having Maxey in the top-3 start with his weaknesses, of which he does not have many. He puts up a great fight and makes plays on defense but there is a limit to who he will be able to effectively guard at 6-foot-3 (and maybe shorter after official measurements).
Maxey shot 50% on a very limited number of right-wing (per The Stepien)3-point attempts but was an unimpressive 29.2% overall from 3-point range on the season. Maxey projects to likely be a solid shooter at the NBA level and if he can knock that shot down consistently he will be a great pro. Maxey’s greatest strength is a great stop-and-go, change of pace game that allows him to get to the rim and finish (65.1% at the rim per Hoop-Math) with ease or pull-up with his great touch for a floater.
Because Maxey can score even if he is playing with bigs that clog the lane, I have no doubt his floater game will likely be his best Day 1 skill in the NBA.
- Anthony Edwards, Georgia
It won’t take long to convince you Anthony Edwards is a top-3 player in the 2020 NBA Draft class. Edwards is a ridiculous athlete and extremely confident shot-taker and maker. Edwards averaged an incredibly impressive 32.1 points per 100 possessions and had some of the most impressive heat checks of the year.
Edwards is 6-foot-5, 225 lbs. and has a 6-foot-9 wingspan. He is already a physical player but will need to raise his level in the NBA. He maintained a healthy 33.9% free throw attempt rate and hit 77.2% of his free throws. Edwards’ main issue isn’t necessarily a lack of free throws but rather is shot selection in general. 25% of Edwards’ field goal attempts are 2-point jump shots (midrange) and he hit 30.2% of them over 32 games. With Edwards hitting 69.4% of his shots at the rim, it is easy to see how cutting down on the long 2s will make him a much more efficient player on offense. But much like supreme shot makers at the NBA level James Harden, Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, Zach LaVine, etc., it will likely take the right team/coach before Edwards embraces the “best version” of his shot profile. That is something that must be weighed b the team picking No. 1 in the 2020 draft.
While it would be nice for Edwards to develop into an amazing playmaker—91 assists and 87 turnovers over 32 games—the best path to him becoming the clear-cut best player in the 2020 NBA Draft is unlocking his potential as a defender. Edwards is big and physical at the point of attack when he is guarding scorers but he still has a tendency to fall asleep off-ball. It is normal for a young player to get beat by backdoor cuts but if he is truly going to be worthy of the No. 1 pick, Edwards has to become more than a scoring machine with so-so (52% true shooting percentage) efficiency.
- LaMelo Ball, Illawarra Hawks (NBL)
18 years old | Point guard | 6-foot-7 | 180 lbs
Stats: 17.1 ppg (.389/.279/.700), 7.8 rpg, 6.7 apg
In a class that is considered weak, LaMelo Ball is without a doubt the prospect I would be most comfortable choosing with the No. 1 pick. Ball has grown to 6-foot-7 and has retained all of the coordination and impeccable ball-handling and playmaking skills that made him an impressive recruit coming through the ranks. Ball had a 36.1% assist rate over 407 total minutes. He came into the NBL and immediately took over as the lead ball-handler on a team that frankly, was not very good. The only other double-digit scorers on Ball’s Hawks team was Aaron Brooks—yes, that, Aaron Brooks—and Todd Blanchfield.
Ball is extremely crafty and with his size and change of direction skills, he can get anywhere he wants on the floor. That will transfer to the NBA level and despite his lack of strength, he shows enough fight on defense in spurts to give hope that he can one day be a dependable switch defender. But if we are being completely honest, Ball’s defense is currently a train wreck. How much of that can we equate to having a high-usage rate (on offense)? And how much can we attribute to Ball’s lack of effort? Again, he put up enough fight when switched onto bigs to make me believe that any defensive deficiencies for Ball don’t come from a lack of caring about defense.
It would be wrong not to mention Ball’s alarmingly poor 46.4% true shooting percentage. A big reason for this is his terrible shot selection. Ball takes some Steph Curry-esque super-deep 3-pointers without anywhere near the accuracy. He shot 6.6 attempts per game from 3-point range and hit them at a woeful 37.9% clip. Despite Ball’s poor 3-point percentage, some of his makes were absolutely ridiculous and the fact that roughly 40% of his FGA are 3s scares defenses into guarding him a certain way. With better teammates, Ball will get cleaner 3-point looks and with the number of attempts he will hoist, he will make an impact (good or bad) from the start.
Regardless of his accuracy, teams will be scared of Ball’s 3-point jumper simply for the frequency with which he takes it, and the accuracy will improve with time. I’m not as confident in Ball’s ability to become an even an average finisher at the rim in the NBA, but his height gives him a much, much greater chance than Young at being a solid defender and rebounder.
LaMelo Ball is a stellar ball-handler, passer, and rebounder—22.2% defensive rebound rate—and his 2.4% steal rate was at least a slight bit of evidence of his ability to be a defensive playmaker.
As Ball adds strength to his frame, he will be one of the bigger lead guards in the NBA but with the ability to guard multiple positions and play off-ball with positive—though streaky—shooting. Ball obviously has the potential to be a bust, as does any player in the especially combustible 2020 NBA Draft class, but I believe when we look back on this draft class down the road he will without a doubt be the best player with the biggest impact on his team.
Kershaw: World Series in December would be ‘a little iffy’
Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw isn’t crazy about the possibility of Major League Baseball extending its 2020 campaign into December because of the current work stoppage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think once you start getting into playing longer in the year, that starts affecting next year,” Kershaw said Thursday on AM 570 LA Sports. “I think you get a little risky the further you go in the season.
“I think expanding it maybe a couple weeks on the back end, but if you go any further than that, you start talking about Thanksgiving and December for a World Series, that gets a little iffy, in my opinion.”
Kershaw also disagreed with Toronto Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro, who said last week that it would likely take at least four weeks for teams to ramp up again before starting a new season.
“We are all pretty built up,” Kershaw said. “Especially for hitters, I think that if you talk to any hitter, they don’t need four weeks to get ready. It’s really just the starting pitchers.
“So I think that if all starting pitchers came back with the mindset that we have the ability to throw three innings right out of the gate, you would only need 20 days and that gets you four starts … and then you would be ready for the season.”
The earliest the new MLB campaign could start is mid-May because of CDC recommendations on mass gatherings.
Boras proposes ‘World Series Week’ at neutral site with award gala
Super-agent Scott Boras has a unique idea for how Major League Baseball should put on its marquee event when and if the 2020 season begins following the delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“There’s potential (to have) a World Series Week, where we can have seven consecutive days of play if needed … and have notice (of) where we’re going to have it, and have a gala for all of the awards there, and have all of the stars there, and have a reason for teams to bring their season-ticket holders there,” Boras told MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM. “There’s just so much advancement that we can grow the game and provide, really, a proper stage for the World Series.”
Boras believes MLB can successfully implement such a model because of the league’s similarities to the NFL.
“We’re not like basketball where they have an arena and where they have a smaller fan base,” the 67-year-old said. “We’re more like the Super Bowl, if you will, because we have a real dynamic attached to the World Series, and we have big stadiums, and an ability to associate so much with the game internationally and with entertainment.”
The MLB and MLBPA ratified a deal Friday to address various issues for a potential 2020 season, which can’t start until at least mid-May due to CDC recommendations. One of the topics addressed in the agreement is the possibility of playing postseason games at neutral sites to negate cold-weather cities hosting contests in November or December.
Tokyo Olympics: Signs suggest summer dates in 2021 for games
Tokyo Olympic organizers seem to be leaning away from starting the rescheduled games in the spring of 2021. More and more the signs point toward the summer of 2021.
Organizing committee President Yoshiro Mori suggested there would be no major change from 2020.
“The games are meant to be in summer, so we should be thinking of a time between June and September,” Japanese news agency Kyodo reported Mori saying on Saturday.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, after the on Tuesday, left open the possibility of spring dates.
The postponed games were to have opened on July 24 and closed on Aug. 9. Mori suggested some decisions could be made as early as this week when the organizing committee’s executive board meets.
Any final decision will be made by local organizers and the IOC, and hundreds of sponsors, sports federations and broadcasters.
Athletes have been left in limbo by the postponement. Many have been forced to stop training because of the spreading coronavirus. Even those who can train have no idea about how to schedule training to reach peak fitness at the right time.
Mori and organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto have both said the added cost of rescheduling will be “enormous.” Early estimates put those costs at between $2 billion-$3 billion with the several levels of Japanese governments likely to foot most of the bills.
Tokyo organizers say they are spending $12.6 billion to stage the games. However, a government audit report said it will cost at least twice that much. All but $5.6 billion is public money.
The Switzerland-based IOC has contributed $1.3 billion to organize the Tokyo Olympics, according to local organizing committee documents. It has a reserve fund of about $2 billion for such emergencies and also has insurance coverage.
Bruce Arians was disheartened by Jameis Winston’s ‘regression’
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ dreams came true when Tom Brady chose to sign with them in free agency. Not only did that decision give them a future Hall of Famer, but it also closed the book on Jameis Winston’s Bucs career — for now.
Winston, whom the team selected No. 1 overall in 2015, is a free agent and still on the market. He led the NFL in passing yards last season (5,109) but threw for 33 touchdowns and 30 interceptions.
The interceptions and bad play by Winston at the end of the season soured Bucs head coach Bruce Arians on the young quarterback.
“For Jameis, for me, it was the regression in the last two ballgames with the interceptions. It was disheartening because he made progress, then he regressed,” Arians said in an interview with Tiki and Tierney on CBS Sports Radio/CBS Sports Network last week.
Arians told Tiki and Tierney that he thinks Winston would be best served as a backup quarterback next season.
“Get him somewhere as a backup for now,” Arians suggested for Winston. Somewhere he can sit and learn the system. Somewhere either with an older guy he can take over next year or compete with a young guy now.”
Many available spots around the NFL have filled up, leaving many to believe Winston won’t have a starting job next season, which Arians thinks is best. Don’t expect Winston to swap teams with Brady though and join the Patriots, because that reportedly is not happening.
Ex-Jaguars Pro Bowler Tony Boselli admitted to hospital with coronavirus
As the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread across the United States, more and more current and former professional athletes have been contracting the virus. Former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive lineman Tony Boselli is among them, and he was reportedly in serious condition at one point.
According to Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman, Boselli was admitted to a Jacksonville-area hospital last week and tested positive for COVID-19. The former Pro Bowler was initially treated in the intensive care unit but has been showing signs of improvement.
Freeman said he decided to report on Boselli’s case after “extensive thought and deliberation,” as he believes it will help save lives by drawing more attention to the pandemic. The reporter added that there have been several other current and former NFL players who have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Boselli, 47, played for the Jaguars from 1995-2001. He was named a Pro Bowler five times and a First-Team All-Pro three times during that span.
The NFL is determined to not allow the coronavirus outbreak to impact its offseason schedule, but many around the league believe that is bound to change in the coming weeks.
Super Bowl odds update: Biggest movers after 1st wave of free agency
If you had an idea a few weeks ago about which team you wanted to bet to win the Super Bowl, you might want to take a fresh look at the oddsboard.
Since the week before free agency began, 26 of the NFL’s 32 teams have seen their futures odds change, including dramatic moves for a few potential contenders. Here’s a look at how the odds have shifted since March 9, with notes on 12 teams that saw the biggest adjustments:
TEAM ODDS (3/9) ODDS (3/27)
Kansas City Chiefs +450 +450
Baltimore Ravens +700 +500
San Francisco 49ers +800 +1000
New Orleans Saints +1200 +1400
New England Patriots +1200 +3000
Pittsburgh Steelers +2000 +3000
Dallas Cowboys +1200 +1400
Philadelphia Eagles +1800 +2000
Green Bay Packers +2000 +2000
Seattle Seahawks +2000 +2000
Los Angeles Rams +2500 +4000
Chicago Bears +3000 +4000
Cleveland Browns +5000 +4000
Los Angeles Chargers +5000 +4000
Indianapolis Colts +4000 +2000
Houston Texans +4000 +8000
Tennessee Titans +4000 +6000
Minnesota Vikings +3000 +3000
Buffalo Bills +4000 +3000
Atlanta Falcons +5000 +6000
Las Vegas Raiders +3000 +4000
Denver Broncos +6000 +5000
New York Jets +10000 +6000
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +4000 +1400
Arizona Cardinals +8000 +4000
New York Giants +8000 +5000
Jacksonville Jaguars +10000 +30000
Detroit Lions +8000 +10000
Carolina Panthers +10000 +10000
Cincinnati Bengals +20000 +30000
Miami Dolphins +20000 +6000
Washington Redskins +20000 +20000
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+4000 to +1400)
You don’t need me to tell you what happened here, but I will, anyway: Tom Brady is in town. As we explained earlier this week, Brady’s presence alone changes everything for the Buccaneers, who are legitimate – if perhaps slightly overpriced – contenders.
Indianapolis Colts (+4000 to +2000)
The Colts should be one of the most improved teams in the league next year thanks to two major moves: the swapping Jacoby Brissett for Philip Rivers and the trade for All-Pro DeForest Buckner to shore up a lousy pass rush. Those two fit seamlessly into a roster ready for contention.
Arizona Cardinals (+8000 to +4000)
Unlike the Bucs and Colts, the Cardinals didn’t need to make a quarterback change to slash their odds in half. Instead, their acquisition of superstar wideout DeAndre Hopkins for what felt like two nickels caught oddsmakers’ attention and makes Arizona’s offense a must-watch in 2020.
New York Giants (+8000 to +5000)
The Giants were among the league’s most active teams in attempting to fix issues from a year ago, namely with the signings of corner James Bradberry and linebacker Blake Martinez. The jury’s out on whether those players will significantly improve last season’s suspect defense, but the betting market respects the overhaul.
Miami Dolphins (+20000 to +6000)
The Dolphins’ roster looked about as bad as possible on paper last year, so a busy free-agency period headlined by the splashy signings of corner Byron Jones and linebacker Kyle Van Noy rightfully forced a major shift in their title price in 2020.
New England Patriots (+1200 to +3000)
The Patriots have lost so many key figures on offense, defense, and from within their coaching ranks during a tumultuous offseason that it’s a bit surprising their odds haven’t moved even more. The 2020 campaign should easily be Bill Belichick’s toughest coaching job.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+2000 to +3000)
The Steelers did very little to improve a roster that, despite having a well-graded defense, wasn’t strong enough to make the playoffs last year. There wasn’t much to suggest a move in either direction, so perhaps bettors just aren’t biting after a dud of a free-agency period in Pittsburgh.
Los Angeles Rams (+2500 to +4000)
Todd Gurley stole the spotlight from the rest of the Rams’ offseason departures, but a drain of defensive talent is arguably more concerning for a Los Angeles team that relied on its overpaid but talented stop unit to win games in 2019. Another cap-clearing deal is looming, which means this price could be on the move.
Houston Texans (+4000 to +8000)
As if giving away Hopkins wasn’t enough, the Texans also let promising defensive lineman D.J. Reader walk and did very little to address the gaping holes left by both players. Deshaun Watson should win MVP if Houston manages to win the division.
Tennessee Titans (+4000 to +6000)
The Titans traded away Jurrell Casey for pocket change and saw a number of other contributors leave in free agency, so this adjustment seems fair. Still, the team did retain its two stars from last year’s playoff run in Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry, so a move to also-ran pricing is probably too harsh an adjustment for Tennesse.
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He’s an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He’s also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet
Would Bill Belichick Tank For Trevor Lawrence?
By Rafael Thomas
There is no word in sports that provokes more of a reaction than, “tanking.” With Tom Brady now in Tampa Bay, many are wondering who the next franchise quarterback of the New England Patriots will be. There is, however, a theory that head coach Bill Belichick has already put his plan in place to obtain the next great signal caller; and it involves tanking the 2020 season in order to draft Trevor Lawrence. But is the mad scientist even capable of tanking a game, let alone an entire season?
The New England Patriots were one of the oldest teams in the NFL last season; this off-season, however, many of those veteran players were allowed to leave the team, creating a chance for the franchise to rebuild and not just retool for the first time in two decades.
The standard line is that organizations tank, but players do not. For Bill Belichick, holding the position of head coach and personnel director, the lines between the two gets blurry. Because as a coach, Belichick will want to try to win every game he can; however, as personal director, if he strips down the roster and leaves it devoid of talent, there could be a scenario where six out of seven days during the week he may not be trying his best to win.
Without Tom Brady, New England must believe they are in a three to five year rebuilding program, and adding that franchise quarterback in the second year makes sense, which is where Trevor Lawrence comes in since he would be draft eligible in 2021. But would the great Bill Belichick have the stomach to go an entire season with only four wins, something he hasn’t done since those dark days in Cleveland, just to get Trevor Lawrence?
The world plays checkers around Bill Belichick while he plays multiple games of chess at the same time. What this means is that he had a plan in place for Tom Brady’s departure long before TB12 even made his decision leave. So, if the grandmaster wants Trevor Lawrence, or any other quarterback, he will likely find a way to obtain him; even if that means tanking.
Bill Belichick will have one chance to build a team without Tom Brady and prove that it was him and not the quarterback who won all those Lombardi Trophies. As of now, one of the greatest coaches of all time is on the clock; and no one knows better than him that sometimes you need to take one step back in order take two or three steps forward.
TODAY IN SPORTS HISTORY-1968
PARIS-In a historic decision, the International Lawn Tennis Federation voted unanimously today for open tennis. That means that professionals will be allowed to compete against amateurs in a limited number of tournaments. Not one dissenting voice was heard as the entire agenda was approved with resounding applause at this extraordinary general meeting, fittingly enough held in the Place de la Concorde.
“It was an incredible result achieved here,” said Bob Kelleher, president of the United States Lawn Tennis Association, “in a spirit of highest cooperation and friendliness.” Until today, the federation had adamantly voted down over the years all attempts to introduce open tennis. In 1967 at Luxembourg, the open proposal was defeated, 139 votes to 83.
The British had made approval possible. In an unparalleled decision, they announced last October they would make the 1968 Wimbledon tournament an open. They said that in the future all players in Britain would be simply “players,” not amateurs or professionals. And the British said they were ready to risk expulsion from the federation to make open tennis possible. Country after country fell into line, and today the world agreed.
What the federation is prepared to recognize is the following categories of tennis players: the “amateur,” who is not paid; the “registered” player, who can profit from the game while not making tennis his profession, and the “professional,” who makes his money from teaching or playing in events not organized by the national association. Everybody seemed happy. “It’s a wonderful thing,” said 70- year-old Jean Borotra, who had won Wimbledon as long ago as 1924. “Amateurism is preserved.”
The British were pleased. They continue their own interpretation of “players” as just that, neither amateurs nor pros, but they recognize the rights of other nations to call them what they want. The United States voted for open tennis in February and had worked here solidly behind the scenes all week for its success. Under the new conditions, the open tourney would logically be held in Forest Hills, Queens, the site of the national amateur championships, in early September. “I don’t know whether Forest Hills wants an open,” said Kelleher. “You have to creep before you can crawl, and the evolutionary process will take time.”
The first United States Open was held in September 1968 (see Sept. 9). The tournament moved from Forest Hills to the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows in 1978.
TODAY IN BASEBALL HISTORY
1922 A frail-looking Christy Mathewson, who served as class president in 1899, is elected as Bucknell’s “B” Club first president. The beloved future Hall of Famer, who will die prematurely in 1925 from tuberculosis after being accidentally gassed in a training exercise during WWI, played on the school’s football team as a placekicker and excelled as a pitcher on the baseball team.
1966 Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale’s refusal to report to spring training ends when the hurlers agree to the Dodgers’ offer of $235,000, signing for $130,000 and $105,000, respectively. The LA starters’ joint holdout lasts for 32 days, paving the way for other players to be more aggressive when negotiating with owners.
1978 The Red Sox obtain Dennis Eckersley and catcher Fred Kendall from the Indians for pitchers Rick Wise and Mike Paxton, along with designated hitter Ted Cox and catcher Bo Diaz. The 23 year-old ‘Eck,’ before becoming a Hall of Fame closer, will win 20 games as a starter for Boston this season.
1979 After hitting only .231 in 61 games last season, Ron Blomberg is released during spring training by the White Sox, completing one year of his long-term deal. Chicago owner Bill Veeck had surprisingly signed the first baseman/DH, who had played in only one game during his last two seasons with the Yankees, to a generous four-year, $500,000 contract in 1977 that included an additional $80,000 signing bonus.
1984 The Padres obtain Yankee veteran third baseman Graig Nettles for pitcher Dennis Rasmussen and prospect Darin Cloninger. The 39 year-old infielder’s postseason experience will prove to be invaluable for the NL’s West Division champs, but his on-field contributions will be minimal, hitting just .228 in 124 games.
1991 A sold-out Joe Robbie Stadium plays host to the Yankees and the Orioles exhibition game, which draws 67,654 fans, a spring training attendance record. The two-day series between the AL East rivals is part of South Florida’s efforts to be awarded a National League expansion team.
1992 The White Sox trade Sammy Sosa and pitcher Ken Patterson to the crosstown rival Cubs in exchange for 32 year-old All-Star slugger George Bell, who plays two seasons playing for his new team before retiring. Sosa will pass Ernie Banks as the franchise’s all-time home run leader, going deep 545 times during his 13-year tenure with the North Siders.
1993 After 43 years, Peanuts character Charlie Brown finally hits a home run, a game-winning round-tripper batting against his nemesis Royanne Hobbs. Almost ten percent of the nearly 18,000 Peanuts strips created by Charles Schulz focused on baseball.
1995 New York Southern District judge Sonia Sotomayor, after careful consideration of the case, rules that the owners’ use of replacement players is in good faith regarding the negotiation for a new collective bargaining agreement, resulting in the players returning to work under the terms of the expired agreement. The future Supreme Court Justice’s decision ends the 232-day work stoppage, but the fans show their displeasure about the loss of last season and the cancellation of the World Series by not immediately supporting their local teams when the games resume in late April.
2001 In the East Room, President George W. Bush, former owner of the Rangers, announces to a group of Hall of Famers that kids from all over the nation will be invited to play baseball on the White House lawn. The Commander in Chief has ordered the construction of a junior-size baseball field outside the Oval Office.
2001 Choosing to end his career as a member of a World Champion team, 36 year-old Dwight Gooden announces his retirement from baseball. ‘Doc,’ who compiles a 194-112 record in 16 seasons playing for the Mets, Yankees, Indians, Astros, and Devil Rays, will remain on the Bronx Bombers’ payroll and will have a position within the organization.
2003 Major League baseball returns to Brooklyn for a day when the Mets appear at KeySpan Park, the Coney Island home of the short-season single-A Cyclones, for the team’s final preseason workout. Although the practice session is rained out, fans enjoy meeting the players and collecting autographs, with the profits made from beverage and other sales being donated to charities in the NYC area serving children.
2006 As a result of the recently released book detailing Barry Bonds allegedly using performance-enhancing drugs, Bud Selig appoints George Mitchell to head an investigation into the use of steroids in baseball. The former Senate Majority Leader will have the authority to expand the probe, which will be made public, into events before Fall of 2002, covering a period when the substances became banned by major league baseball.
2012 Jamie Moyer becomes the oldest starting pitcher to make an Opening Day roster when the Rockies announce that the 49 year-old southpaw will face Houston in the second game of the season. Knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm was the same age as the Colorado left-hander when he opened the season with L.A. in 1972, but ‘Old Sarge’ appeared strictly in relief for the Dodgers.
2016 Arizona State University announces the Sun Devils plan to wear special retro uniforms with a commemorative patch on the sleeve to honor alum Rick Monday, who patriotic gesture in 1976 became a memorable moment in baseball history. The ASU graduate, who led the school to the 1965 College World Series championship over Ohio State, saved the American flag from being burned by two protesters at Dodger Stadium during the American Bicentennial.
2019 Christian Yelich becomes the only Brewer player in franchise history to hit a home run in each of his team’s first three games when he goes deep in the first inning of a 4-2 victory over St. Louis. The outfielder’s trio of round-trippers has all come at Miller Park Stadium at the expense of the Cardinals.
WORLD SERIES HISTORY-1912
Once again, the New York Giants stood atop the standings as the most dominant team in the National League. Still reeling from the devastating loss in the previous World Series, they managed to take comfort in the less-than stellar performance of their rival Philadelphia Athletics. The two-time Champions were slated at the beginning of the season for a three-peat, but later fell to third place and finished fifteen games behind the pennant winning Boston Red Sox.
The Giants had a lot of other reasons to smile during the regular season as left-handed ace, Rube Marquard set a long-standing Major League record by going undefeated in his first nineteen starts and later went on to finish with twenty-six wins. Veteran Christy Mathewson had twenty-three victories and rookie Jeff Tesreau had won seventeen games while leading the National League with an ERA of 1.96. At the plate, New York boasted solid performances by Larry Doyle, who batted .330, Fred Merkle who had a .309 average and Chief Meyers who delivered a .358. Merkle and Doyle had combined for twenty-one home runs and Red Murray led the team with nintey-two runs batted in. New York had won one-hundred three games and the National League pennant by ten games. Boston was also stacked after a magnificent year on the mound by Smoky Joe Wood who had won thirty-four out thirty-nine games and pitched ten shutouts. Offensively, Tris Speaker had dominated the American League pitchers with a .383 batting average.
Boston Manager Jake Stahl gave the Game 1 start to superstar Joe Wood while New York’s John McGraw chose newcomer Jeff Tesreau over Series veterans Marquard or Mathewson. Rookies, even seventeen game winners, rarely started World Series openers and it would prove to be a fatal mistake in the eyes of many Giants fans as Woods and the Sox took a 4-3 first game advantage. Game 2 was a roller-coaster ride as the Giants overcame a 4-2 deficit in the top of the eighth only to allow the tying run during the Sox’s half of the inning. Memories of the previous Series late game comebacks and losses to the A’s inspired the Giants to regain a 6-5 lead in the tenth. Boston was able to even the score in their next at bat and almost won after Tris Speaker hit what appeared to be an in-the-park homerun (after reserve catcher Art Wilson dropped the ball at the plate) but it was credited as a triple. Neither team could break through in the eleventh inning and once again, a World Series game was called short and went into the books as a 6-6 tie due to darkness.
The next day, Giant ace Rube Marquard lived up to his record-setting reputation and evened the Series with a 2-1 triumph. Despite his best efforts, New York’s momentum would not last long. In a Game 4 rematch of the opener, Wood and Tesreau went at it again for another performance of “David vs. Goliath” as Smoky Joe out-dueled the young rookie in a 3-1 victory. Surprisingly, Boston decided to turn the tables for Game 5 by starting their own rookie ace, Hugh Bedient, a twenty game winner, against the Giants’ veteran Christy Mathewson. This time the story played out true as the Sox’s “David” outmatched the Giants’ “giant” with a 2-1 decision.
Not wanting a repeat of last year’s Series ending performance, the Giants came out in Game 6 with a renewed sense of urgency and knocked Boston starter Buck O’Brien for five runs in the first inning on their way to a must-win victory. A rejuvenated, New York carried the same momentum into Game 7, getting revenge on the undefeated Wood with six runs in the opening inning. With Marquard pitching a seven-hitter and Tesreau finally turning the tables on Wood, the Giants had won two crucial games by 5-2 and 11-4 scores. The best-of-seven battle would require an eighth game. Chasing away the demons from the previous year, New York had finally shown its own tenacity and was ready to finish the job, but Boston wasn’t ready to go home empty handed either.
Once again, New York’s John McGraw sparked some pre-game controversy after deciding to start Christy Mathewson, who was winless in his two previous appearances, for the Series finale. Not to be outdone, Boston started their own argument by selecting their twenty-two year-old rookie Bedient, who had defeated Mathewson in Game 5 for the crucial start. Both teams went head-to-head for nine innings to a tense 1-1 standoff. Mathewson was still pitching for New York, while Wood had taken over in the eighth for Bedient (who left the game in the seventh for pinch-hitter, Olaf Henriksen, whose double had tied the score). In the tenth, New York’s Red Murray knocked a one-out double and later scored on a Fred Merkle single. While Wood retired the side without further damage, the Red Sox were faced with trying to rebound from a 2-1 deficit.
Desperate Giant fans had already started celebrating as Boston took their turn at an extra-inning comeback. Pinch-hitter Clyde Engle started the bottom half of the inning with a high fly ball to mid-centerfield. Fred Snodgrass stepped back to make the routine catch and accidentally dropped it. His teammates stood in disbelief as the tying run for Boston was now on second base. The visibly shaken Snodgrass was given the opportunity to “save face” on the very next play and shined with a spectacular catch off a Harry Hooper line-drive. Unfortunately, Engle had now advanced to third and was in prime scoring position. Steve Yerkes followed with a walk and Tris Speaker sent Engle home for the tying run. With Yerkes stationed at third and Speaker on first with one out, Duffy Lewis was walked intentionally. Larry Gardner stepped up and belted a deep sacrifice fly to Josh Devore in right field, while Yerkes tagged up and scored. The Red Sox had come back for a 3-2 victory and their second World Series championship. For the stunned Giants, it was their second consecutive defeat in the Fall Classic and an unbelievable finish to what had otherwise been a magical season.
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL’S BEST EVER
“The rumors are that [rookie] Allen is not returning with the Phillies to Connie Mack Stadium on Wednesday. He’s going directly to the Hall of Fame.”
The Philadelphia Phillies’ first black superstar, Dick Allen was one of the most feared hitters in baseball in the 1960s. In an era dominated by pitching, he slugged some of the most prodigious home runs and quickly become one of the most exciting players in the game, though he was soon shrouded in controversy.
The Phillies had high hopes as they gathered in Clearwater, Florida, for spring training in 1964. They had acquired a bona-fide ace pitcher in Jim Bunning, were coming off an impressive close to the year before, in which they had the best record in all of baseball in September, and were stocked with bright young stars. All eyes, however, were fixed on a young slugger from a tiny hamlet in western Pennsylvania with the broad shoulders and narrow waist of a Greek Olympian. He did not disappoint.
Richard Anthony Allen was born on March 8, 1942, in Wampum, Pennsylvania, a small town 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. Though Allen earned the moniker of the Wampum Walloper, the family actually lived in Chewton, a smaller village (pop. 488) just outside of Wampum (pop. 717). One of nine children, Dick was raised by his mother, Era, who supported the family by working as a domestic.
As a child Allen spent hours batting stones and announcing every hitter in the Brooklyn Dodgers’ lineup until he got to his favorite player, Jackie Robinson. “I was always paying for new window panes all over the neighborhood,” said Mrs. Allen. “The neighbors wouldn’t even bother to ask the kids who was responsible. They would just come and tell me it was Dickie again. I knew they were right, too, because there were no baseball fields in all of Chewton or Wampum that could hold a stone if Dickie hit it good.” Allen summed up his childhood succinctly: “My mom did a swell job of raising us.”
An outstanding athlete at Wampum High School, Allen was a starting guard on the basketball team, which had achieved national prominence in the 1950s under coach L. Butler Hennon. In 1958 Dick and his older brothers, Hank and Ronnie, played on the team together. Amazingly, all three earned All-State honors in basketball, and all were later signed by the Phillies and played baseball in the major leagues. In 1960 the basketball team, captained by Dick, won the Division B state championship. Allen earned All-American honors although he was only 5-feet-11-inches tall and weighed 187 pounds.
Dick put baseball ahead of basketball because baseball paid better then and the Allen children wanted to buy a new home for their mother. Dick’s prowess on the diamond caught the attention of Phillies scout John Ogden, who said that he took one look at the young Allen and knew he was special. Ogden endeared himself to the family and did not allow Allen out of his sight. Allen was signed upon graduation from high school for an estimated $70,000. The first thing Dick did was buy his mother that new house.
Allen, along with his brother Hank, began his professional career at Elmira in the New York-Pennsylvania League in 1960. Signed as a shortstop, he was soon switched to the outfield and told he needed to wear glasses. After hitting .281 in his first year, he wore glasses from then on. In 1961 he was promoted to Magic Valley (Twin Falls, Idaho) in the Pioneer League, where he played second base, and spent the 1962 season at Williamsport in the Double-A Eastern League. In his first three minor-league seasons, Allen hit 49 homers and drove in 245 runs. He was clearly one of the crown jewels of the Phillies’ farm system.
At the major-league level, the Phillies were a wretched ballclub. The team had finished last from 1958 through 1961 and had endured a 23-game losing streak in 1961. By 1962 they had improved slightly, and enjoyed their first winning season since 1953. Allen expected to reach the major leagues in 1963, but the Phillies had other plans.
To say that the Phillies had a poor history with race relations would be an understatement. They were notorious for their disgraceful treatment of Jackie Robinson in 1947, and the 1950 Whiz Kids were the last National League champion without a player of color. The Phillies did not integrate until 1957, by which time every other team in the National League already had established black stars. Many of the early players of color on the Phillies were Cuban, Mexican, or Panamanian. Their first African-American player of significance was Wes Covington, acquired from the Kansas City Athletics in 1961.
In 1963 the Phillies’ Triple-A farm club relocated from Buffalo to Little Rock, Arkansas. Without telling anyone, the Phillies decided to integrate the team. Little Rock had found itself in the middle of the civil-rights movement in 1957 after Governor Orval Faubus refused to integrate Central High School in Little Rock.
For Allen, who grew up in racially tolerant Wampum, Little Rock was a startling experience. As the first black to play there, he experienced racial segregation and pressure on a daily basis. “I didn’t know anything about the racial issue in Arkansas, and didn’t really care. Maybe if the Phillies had called me in, man to man, like the Dodgers had done with Jackie Robinson, at least I would have been prepared. Instead, I was on my own.”
Governor Faubus attended the season opener, and the opening night crowd waved placards that read, “Let’s not NEGRO-ize our baseball.” The very first pitch of the game resulted in a routine fly ball to Allen, who promptly dropped it. The racially charged atmosphere frightened young Allen. He came from a small town where blacks and whites got along and socialized to some degree. He heard racial taunts from the crowd and found threatening notes on his car after games. Allen told a writer in 1964, “I didn’t want to be a crusader. I kept thinking, ‘Why me?’ It’s tough to play ball when you’re frightened.” Allen was harassed at a local store and by a policeman, and was afraid to walk around town. Things got so bad that he considered quitting the team. His older brother, Coy, went down to Little Rock and told Allen that if he quit, he would have to get a job in one of the mills in Wampum. Allen stuck it out.
By the end of the season Allen was voted Most Valuable Player by the Travelers’ fans, and wound up hitting .289 and leading the International League with 33 home runs and 97 RBIs. He was called up to the Phillies and made his major-league debut on September 3, 1963, in Milwaukee. Facing Denny Lemaster, Allen wore uniform number 32 instead of what would become his familiar number 15, and went 1-for-3 with a double. He played in ten games, but showed his power only once, in Los Angeles on September 28, going 3-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs to pace a 12-3 Phillies’ win.
During spring training of 1964, manager Gene Mauch decided that Allen, whom the team insisted on calling Richie, would play third base, a position he had never played regularly at any level. The reason was simple: The Phillies were a predominantly left-handed-hitting team. They needed Dick’s right-handed bat and power in the lineup. The Phillies had traded their only right-handed power hitter, Don Demeter, to Detroit over the winter to get Jim Bunning. Mauch preferred to play the veteran Don Hoak, whom he had acquired a year earlier to play third base. But Hoak struggled terrifically, and with Allen tearing up the league in spring training, Mauch had to play him somewhere. Mauch reasoned that Allen had good hands and could play third well enough to get by: “I know his bat has to help,” the manager said.
Early in the 1964 season, Allen was the talk of baseball. On April 19 in Wrigley Field, he hit two home runs against the Cubs and raised his average to .429. Mauch said that “he hardly strides at all in the batters’ box. His hands are so fast it’s unbelievable. And he can hit them to any field.”
In what would be the first of many controversies surrounding him, Allen complained about being called Richie, For whatever reason, the Phillies insisted on referring to him as Richie on all printed rosters, scorecards, and team correspondence. “To be truthful with you, I’d like to be called Dick. I don’t know how the Richie started. My name is Richard and they called me Dick in the minor leagues.” He added, “It makes me sound like I’m ten years old. I’m 22. … Anyone who knows me well calls me Dick. I don’t know why as soon as I put on a uniform it’s Richie.” The moniker stayed with him until 1966, when the Philadelphia sportswriters began referring to him as Rich Allen.
By August 1964 Philadelphia was in the grip of pennant fever, and Allen, hitting .313, was being touted for National League Rookie of the Year honors. Allen brushed off the talk of the award: “So what? No money goes along with that award, does it? If they put ten or eleven thousand dollars in a pot and gave it to the Rookie of the Year, I might be interested.” Allen later said that individual honors did not mean as much as winning the pennant.
While Allen was adept with the bat, his fielding was a sore spot with fans. He made 41 errors at third base in 1964. Phillies fans at Connie Mack Stadium booed him unmercifully, to the dismay of both his teammates and opponents. Manager Mauch commented, “I just don’t understand it. I guess when people have exceptional talent, they are expected to be exceptional every minute of the day, and the perfect player hasn’t been born yet.”
By September 20 the Phillies had built a comfortable 6½-game lead with 12 to play in the National League, and looked forward to winning their first pennant in 14 years. But fate intervened. While World Series tickets were being printed, the Phillies lost ten painful games in a row. Cincinnati and St. Louis played their best baseball of the season and caught the Phils down the stretch. During the season’s final two weeks, Allen hit .429 and fashioned an 11-game hitting streak. On the season’s final day, with the Phillies needing a win and a Cardinals loss to force a playoff, Allen went 3-for-5 with two home runs in a 10-0 win over the Reds in Crosley Field. However, the Cardinals beat the New York Mets and clinched the pennant. Allen had done his part. It simply wasn’t enough.
Allen finished the 1964 season with a .318 average, 29 homers, and 91 RBIs. He led the league with 125 runs scored, but also set a NL strikeout mark with 138. He was the only Phillie to start all 162 games and earned himself the National League Rookie of the Year Award. It was little consolation for the disappointment he and his teammates felt. That 1964 season was the closest Allen ever came to playing for a pennant winner.
Allen began the 1965 season by holding out for a raise and refusing to report to spring training. He said he was asking for less than $25,000 and thought he was worth it. Phillies general manager John Quinn, known for being parsimonious, said that Allen was “asking for too much after one year.” Alen reluctantly came to terms for a reported $20,000.
The Phillies went into spring training trying to forget the disappointment of 1964. Many writers picked the Phils to contend for the pennant once again. “Richie” picked up right where he left off in 1964. On April 12 he hit the first regular-season home run in the new Astrodome in Houston. The Phillies got off to a slow start, but Allen was sizzling with the bat. On May 16 he went 4-for-5 against the Milwaukee Braves to raise his average to .368. His most dramatic moment came on May 29 at Connie Mack Stadium against the Chicago Cubs. Facing Larry Jackson in the first inning, Allen blasted a 510-foot homer that sailed high over a 15-foot billboard on the roof in left-center field and landed in a tree 50 feet up on Woodstock Street, a block away from the ballpark. It was believed to be one of the longest home runs ever hit in Connie Mack Stadium. Gene Mauch commented, “I’ve seen Allen hit balls harder and look better doing it, but that has to be his most impressive homer.”15 A blasé Allen said, “I don’t measure them. It was a low and away let-up pitch. It felt good. But I didn’t look to see where it was going.”
On July 3 Allen was leading the National League in hitting with a .335 average, and was selected as the starting third baseman on the All-Star team. However, an incident during batting practice at Connie Mack Stadium that evening altered Allen’s relationship with Philadelphia fans. As teammate Frank Thomas took his swings in the cage, Johnny Callison taunted Thomas about a botched bunt the night before. Thomas yelled out to Allen, “Who are you trying to be, another Muhammad Clay?” The racially tinged remark struck a nerve with Allen.
When Allen came in the cage to hit, he confronted Thomas. Words were exchanged, and Allen punched Thomas squarely in the jaw. Thomas, a big man, grabbed a bat and hit Allen on the right shoulder with it. The two were then separated by teammates. After the game, the Phillies announced that Thomas had been placed on irrevocable waivers. Mauch threatened to fine any player who spoke about the incident to the press $1,000, while Allen was told he would be fined $2,000. When asked about Thomas’s release, Allen replied, “Why should I have any comment? I don’t work in the office.”
From the next day on, some Philadelphia fans booed Allen incessantly. He was unfairly labeled the villain in the fight with Thomas and blamed for the veteran’s release. Some fans even hung large “WE WANT THOMAS” banners from the upper deck at Connie Mack Stadium. Although Thomas was a popular player, he was 36 and had been replaced as the starting first baseman when the Phillies traded for Dick Stuart the previous winter. The incident further divided a city recovering from racial rioting near the ballpark the previous summer. On July 8, five days after the incident, more than 37,000 fans jammed Connie Mack Stadium for a doubleheader with the San Francisco Giants. In the nightcap, Allen hit his first major-league grand slam, off Jack Sanford, a majestic shot off the top of the 75-foot-high Ballantine Beer scoreboard. The same fans who had been abusing Allen all week suddenly gave him a huge ovation “which almost lifted the roof off the ancient playpen.” Allen commented, “The people in this town like to boo, but I just play it has hard as I can and don’t listen.”
The rest of the 1965 season was uneventful for the Phillies; they finished sixth. Allen played in all 161 games, slumped in July and August, and wound up hitting .302 with 20 homers and 85 RBIs. His power numbers declined a bit, and he struck out a league-leading 150 times, breaking his own league record. Allen also cut down on his errors at third base from 41 to 26, and led all NL third basemen with 29 double plays.
The 1966 season solidified Allen’s status as a true baseball superstar. He hit .317 (fourth in the National League), with 40 home runs (second to Hank Aaron’s 44), and 110 RBIs (third in the league), while playing in 141 games. He led the league in slugging, played in his second consecutive All-Star Game, and finished fourth in National League MVP voting. It was Allen’s best season statistically and his least controversial as well.
Allen began wearing a batting helmet for protection from the projectiles being thrown at him. Teammate Bob Uecker nicknamed him “Crash,” as in crash helmet. Allen wore a batting helmet at all times for the remainder of his career. The Phillies finished the 1966 season a strong fourth with an 87-75 record, 8½ games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers. Allen was rewarded with an $85,000 contract for 1967, the highest ever for a fourth-year player.
Like many of his teammates, Allen lived year-round in Philadelphia, residing in the Mount Airy section of the city. He loved horses and spent hours riding his horse Old Blaze in nearby Fairmount Park. Despite his powerful physique, Allen dreamed of being a jockey: “I’m one of those guys who would like to weigh about 115 pounds for a couple of hours in the afternoon and then go back to my own size about 5 o’clock.” Another passion of Allen’s was music, especially singing. In 1968 he formed the Ebonistics, a doo-wop group, and recorded the song “Echoes of November,” which became an R&B hit in the Philadelphia area. In January 1969 Allen and the Ebonistics performed the song during halftime of a Philadelphia 76ers game at the Spectrum in Philadelphia.
By 1967 the Phillies were in the beginning stages of a downward spiral, but Allen was at the top of his game. He maintained a .300 batting average throughout the season and led the league in on-base percentage. Allen was once again the starting third baseman on the All-Star team. In the game, in Anaheim, he blasted a home run that gave the NL a 1-0 lead.
But controversy swirled around Allen all season. On July 8 he arrived late for a night game with the Cardinals, and in no condition to play. Mauch benched him and said, “I think some rest will help him. If there’s any disciplinary problem between Richie and me it’s going to remain between Richie and me.” The next afternoon Allen was back in the lineup and hit a tremendous game-tying home run. The ball traveled well over 500 feet and cleared the center-field fence about halfway between the flagpole and the light tower on the center-field side of the scoreboard. It was the first home run to clear the 32-foot-high wall at Connie Mack Stadium
Despite leading the Phillies in practically every offensive category, Allen continued to be booed. He made it known that he was disturbed by the booing and wanted to be traded: “I’d like to get out of Philadelphia. I don’t care for the people or their attitude, although they don’t bother me or my play. But maybe the Phillies can get a couple of broken bats and shower shoes for me.”
On August 24, 1967, the Phillies were rained out. With no game that night, Allen spent the evening at home tinkering with his 1950 Ford. As he tried to push the car up the driveway in the rain, his right hand slipped and went through the headlight. Two tendons were cut and a nerve was severed. After a five-hour operation at Temple University Hospital, doctors gave Allen a 50-50 chance of ever playing again.
But Allen’s hand healed well enough to enable him to report to spring training in 1968. With a lingering sore shoulder and a right hand that would never fully heal, Allen opened the season as the Phillies’ regular left fielder and handled the position well, committing only six errors all year. But controversy found him on June 1, when he was sent home after arriving late to Connie Mack Stadium. He was fined after that and did not play during the following week’s West Coast road trip, except for a pinch-hitting appearance against the Dodgers. Allen did not take part in pregame practice during much of the trip, and was dressed in street clothes before the games were over.
Clearly agitated by the whole Allen situation, Mauch gave the Phillies a “me or him” ultimatum.
The Phillies made their decision. On June 15 Mauch was fired after 8½ seasons and replaced by Bob Skinner. General manager Quinn acknowledged that Allen was a factor in Mauch’s firing, but not the only reason. When asked about Allen, Skinner told the press, “There are a lot of managers in the National League who would like to have him, and Bob Skinner is one of them. I anticipate no problems with any of the players.”
The change in managers rejuvenated Allen for a while. He hit .356, scored 24 runs, hit 12 homers, and drove in 27 runs in Skinner’s first 30 days at the helm. By July 16 Allen was second in the National League in batting average and homers.
After a hot streak, the Phils faded and finished the year tied for seventh place with a 76-86 record. Allen saved his best for last, hitting three home runs and driving in seven runs on the season’s final day against the Mets at Shea Stadium. Although 1968 was considered “the year of the pitcher,” Allen finished second in the league with 33 home runs, drove in 90 runs, and hit .263. The Phillies tried but did not trade Allen that winter.
The Phillies struggled in the early part of the 1969 season as the rebuilding process continued. Despite getting off to a torrid start with the bat, Allen found himself embroiled in yet another controversy. On May 1 he missed the early-morning team flight to St. Louis, claiming he was caught in traffic. He was then scheduled to take a 4 P.M. flight to St. Louis, but missed that one too.
He finally arrived at Busch Stadium the following afternoon, 25 minutes late for that day’s game, and was fined $1,000. Skinner commented, “I can’t speak for Allen, but I think he has a full understanding of the wrong he was involved in. It was one of the worst things you can do in baseball.” Allen later informed the press that he had told Phillies management “to get rid of me last winter. They had their chance. I don’t feel sorry for them.”
After that escapade, Allen played solid, consistent baseball. In late May he homered in five straight games, and on June 1 he was hitting a sizzling .341, but was growing increasingly unhappy with the situation in Philadelphia.
On Tuesday, June 24, Allen went to Monmouth Park in New Jersey to watch his horse, Trick Fire. He left the racetrack late and failed to realize that the starting time of the first game of that evening’s doubleheader with the Mets at Shea Stadium had been moved up an hour. Switching on the car radio, he heard that he had been suspended by Skinner. Instead of reporting to the ballpark, Allen headed home to Philadelphia. A visibly angry Skinner did not say how long the suspension would last: “That’s up to Mr. Allen. I’ll have to talk to him.” General manager John Quinn supported Skinner’s decision, saying, “The manager has the jurisdiction to do anything he deems necessary on the field.”
At the time of his suspension, Allen was hitting .318 with 19 home runs and 45 RBIs. He was far and away the best player on an otherwise mediocre team. Without Allen the team struggled mightily. Allen’s suspension was indefinite, meaning that he would have been reinstated if he would have just met with Phillies’ management. Instead he stayed away 26 days. At times no one could locate him, and he gave no indication that he would return to the Phillies. He was being fined $1,000 a day, a steep price to pay for his stubborn streak.
Finally, on July 19, Allen met with Phillies owner Bob Carpenter at a suburban Philadelphia restaurant. Allen agreed to end his self-imposed exile, and Carpenter promised to trade the slugger at the end of the season. The next morning Allen was scheduled to meet with Skinner at 9 A.M. Allen kept Skinner waiting for two hours, finally arriving at 11. Despite the obvious disregard for his manager, Skinner told the press there had been a misunderstanding concerning the time of the meeting. That afternoon, as the Apollo 11 astronauts landed on the moon, Phillies infielder Cookie Rojas remarked, “This must be the greatest day in history. The astronauts come down on the moon and Richie Allen comes down to earth.”
In late July Allen began scrawling large words in the dirt with his foot around first base at Connie Mack Stadium. “The people were getting on me and I wanted to hit a home run over the Coca-Cola sign to shut them up,” so he wrote “COKE” in the dirt to amuse the fans. Over the course of the next few games he wrote “BOO,” “OCT 2,” and “PETE.” When ordered to cease his “dirt doodling,” Allen responded with “NO,” and “WHY.” Allen remarked, “I kept it up ’cause everyone made such a fuss over it.”
On August 7 Allen refused to accompany the Phillies to Reading for an exhibition game. Skinner, furious and fed up, resigned. Skinner blamed the Phillies front office for not backing him in handling Allen. Once again, Allen was made to be the scapegoat. The Phillies replaced Skinner with coach George Myatt. When Myatt was asked how he would handle Allen, he replied, “Good God his-self couldn’t handle Richie Allen.”
Allen played out the remainder of the 1969 season and the Phillies finished with an abysmal 63-99 record. Only the expansion Montreal Expos kept them out of last place. Despite appearing in only 118 games, Allen hit .288 with 32 homers and 89 RBIs. On October 7 the Phillies released Allen from his prison, trading him, along with Rojas and pitcher Jerry Johnson to the St. Louis Cardinals in return for outfielder Curt Flood, catcher Tim McCarver, outfielder Byron Browne and pitcher Joe Hoerner. The trade had a lasting impact on baseball history, although Allen had nothing to do with it. Flood refused to report to the Phillies, challenging baseball’s reserve clause, an action that foreshadowed free agency.
After a contract dispute with Cardinals owner August A. Busch was settled, Allen arrived to St. Petersburg for spring training in March 1970 and told the press, “I’m no angel, but I haven’t done anything more than others have done. I don’t think I’m as bad as I’m made out to be. I did things in Philadelphia but I don’t have any intention of doing those things in St. Louis. I came here with the intention of playing ball.”33
Despite missing almost three weeks of spring training, Allen was more than ready once the season began. On opening day at Jarry Park in Montreal, he homered and hit two doubles in five at-bats, knocking in three runs as the Cardinals defeated the Expos, 7-2.
The fans in St. Louis could not contain their excitement over their new slugger. On April 10 a throng of 47, 568 at the Cards’ home opener gave Allen a pregame standing ovation. After the game, he called the reception “heartwarming,”34 and added, “I just hope I prove to be worth it.”
After years of enduring boos and taunts in Philadelphia, Allen was happy to be in St. Louis: “No wonder they win over here. I feel just like I made the big leagues. This is the best ballclub I ever played with, and I’m not kidding. This team has a lot of talent and a lot of speed.”
Allen was voted the starting National League first baseman by the fans for the 1970 All-Star Game. This was a surprising development considering that only a year earlier, some considered him the most disliked player in baseball.
In mid-August Allen led the Cardinals in home runs and RBIs, and seemed well on his way to yet another impressive offensive season. However, during a game with the Giants on August 14,
he tore a hamstring sliding into second base. The injury was slow to heal, and Allen played in just five more games that season. Rumors surfaced that the Cardinals were unhappy with Allen’s slow recovery from the injury and wanted to trade him.
When they circulated, the rumors were denied by manager Red Schoendienst, but on October 5, four days after the season ended, the Cardinals traded Allen to the Dodgers for second baseman Ted Sizemore and catcher Bob Stinson. Cardinals GM Bing Devine said the reason for the trade was to replace the aging Julian Javier at second base. Devine added, “He (Allen) and I talked … and I told him that he did everything we expected of him. It was just that the club wasn’t balanced enough … the vital aspect being defense.” Schoendienst said that “Allen did a fine job for us, and we never had any problems with him.”38
As a result of the trade, the Dodgers were seen as a possible pennant contender, with Allen supplying the long-ball threat they had lacked for several years. Allen said his love for the Dodgers began in his childhood: “Putting on a Dodger uniform is something special for me. My family, we used to go to Forbes Field in Pittsburgh every time the Dodgers would come there. And we lived 30 miles away.”
Allen was a huge part of the Dodgers’ on-field success in 1971. Coach Danny Ozark recalled, “Allen did a great job for us in L.A. He was a great baserunner, the best I ever coached. I’d take the extra base with him, and I don’t think he was ever thrown out the entire year.” Off the field, however, Allen wanted no part of the public-relations commitments that owner Walter O’Malley expected of the players. Allen felt this distracted from the team’s mission of winning ballgames.
Los Angeles and San Francisco engaged in a spirited battle for the National League West title, and the Dodgers finished second, a game behind the Giants. Allen had another fine year at the plate, hitting .295 with 23 home runs and 90 RBIs in 155 games. On December 2, 1971, Allen was traded for the third time in three years, to the Chicago White Sox for pitcher Tommy John and infielder Steve Huntz.
A mediocre club, the White Sox were managed by Chuck Tanner, a native of New Castle, Pennsylvania, not far from Wampum, and a longtime friend of the Allen family. At this point Allen was weary of trades and the baseball life. In a 1972 interview, he said, “After last year at Los Angeles, I decided I had had it. But I talked with my mother and she told me, ‘Listen son, go help Chuck out.’ I got in touch with the White Sox and signed.” When he arrived in spring training, Allen made it known to the press that he disliked being called Richie. Almost overnight, he was referred to as Dick Allen by the national media. He recalled that Chicago was the first city to refer to him by the name his mother gave him at birth. “I made up my mind right then and there that Dick Allen was going to pay back Chicago for the respect they were giving me.”
Allen carried the White Sox on his broad shoulders into pennant contention in 1972. He was far and away the most talented player on the team. He was also credited for revitalizing baseball on Chicago’s South Side. According to Roland Hemond, then the team’s general manager, “He gave us great years; he made it fun. Attendance had been down for years. You know we had experimented with playing a few games up in Milwaukee (1968-69). Dick got them out to the ballpark again. He had a tremendous impact on our attendance.” The White Sox drew only 833,891 fans to Comiskey Park in 1971, but in 1972 attendance spiked to 1,177, 318. During Allen’s three-year tenure in Chicago, the Sox drew a million fans each season.
Allen was the most dominant player in the American League – if not in all of baseball – in 1972. He led the league with 37 home runs and 113 RBIs, and was the starting first baseman on the National League All-Star team. The season was full of memorable moments, but none as dramatic as Sunday, June 4. The White Sox hosted the New York Yankees in a doubleheader at Comiskey Park before a crowd of 51, 904. In game two, Allen came off the bench to pinch-hit in the bottom of the ninth inning with two runners on and the White Sox trailing 4-2. He blasted a long three-run homer off Sparky Lyle to give Chicago a dramatic 5-4 win and a sweep of the twin bill. On July 31 Allen hit two inside-the-park home runs in a game against the Minnesota Twins.
The White Sox battled the more talented Oakland A’s for the division lead all summer, and climbed to within 2½ games of the lead as late as September 24. But they eventually faded and finished the season in second place with a record of 87-67. For Allen, though, it was a year to remember; he was overwhelmingly voted MVP of the American League.
In February 1973 the White Sox rewarded Allen with a three-year contract estimated at $700,000, believed to be the biggest contract ever given to a major-league baseball player at the time. He picked up right where he left off in 1973. He was among the AL leaders in home runs and RBIs, and was hitting a robust .342 as late as June 13. In late June, Allen suffered a hairline fracture of a bone in his right leg in a collision with the Angels’ Mike Epstein, and was out of action for a month. Controversy erupted over the length of Allen’s absence. Some accused him of being a malingerer, claiming that the injury was not as serious as he claimed. Critics noted that he walked without his crutches while attending the All-Star Game in Kansas City. But Allen did attempt to play again in 1973, returning to the lineup on July 31. He went 3-for-4, limped noticeably, and was shut down for the remainder of the season on August 2.
With his leg fully healed, Allen was well on his way to another outstanding season in 1974. He was once again voted the starting first baseman on the American League All-Star team, and led the league in home runs for most of the summer. However, it was not a good season in Chicago. The White Sox spent most of the year mired in fourth place in the AL West, and dissension was tearing the clubhouse apart. Furthermore, Allen was playing in pain. His shoulder had been bothering him and the pain had spread to his back. On September 14, before a game with the California Angels, Allen called a team meeting and tearfully announced his retirement to his teammates. He later told a Chicago reporter, “I just can’t hack it anymore.” At the time Allen was hitting .301 with 32 homers (which would ultimately lead the league) and 88 RBIs. Only Mike Schmidt of the Phillies hit more home runs than Allen in 1974.
But like most Allen situations, the issue of retirement was not cut and dried. It was soon discovered that he never filed the required paperwork with the American League, which would have made the retirement official. Therefore, Chicago placed him on the disqualified list, meaning the team could trade its rights to Allen, but he would be ineligible to play again until May of 1975.
In December 1974 the White Sox traded Allen to the Atlanta Braves for cash and a player to be named later. However, Allen wanted no parts of the South, the Braves, or their manager, Clyde King. He immediately informed the Braves in a telegram that he would not play for them. At the same time, he surprised everyone by announcing that he would be interested in returning to Philadelphia. However, Allen missed all of spring training and sat by idly as the 1975 season opened.
On May 7, 1975, after trading away popular first baseman Willie Montanez a few days earlier, the Phillies sent minor leaguers Jim Essian, Barry Bonnell, and an unspecified amount of cash to the Braves in return for Allen and catcher Johnny Oates. After six years and five trades, the prodigal son had returned home.
It was a different team and city that Allen returned to. The Phillies had long since abandoned Connie Mack Stadium and now played in Veterans Stadium, nicknamed The Vet. Only two of his 1969 teammates, Tony Taylor and Terry Harmon, were still on the ballclub. The Phillies were a young team on the rise in the National League, and needed an experienced player like Allen to guide them. On May 14, 1975, he played in his first game with the Phillies since 1969. A huge crowd welcomed him back with numerous standing ovations. Allen singled off the Reds’ Pat Darcy in the first of his three at-bats, and inspired his teammates to a 4-0 win over Cincinnati.
The long layoff and lack of spring training caught up with Allen. He struggled mightily; his average hovered at or below .220 most of the summer. Dick finished the 1975 season with career lows in batting average (.233) and home runs (12). Yet he managed to drive in 62 runs despite hitting behind RBI leader Greg Luzinski. He vowed to come back stronger in 1976, saying, “I owe them something.”
Allen started the 1976 season slowly, hitting .250 with no home runs when he was placed on the disabled list in late April. He was out of action for a few weeks, but returned rejuvenated in May and played well as the Phillies blitzed through the National League. By Memorial Day the Phillies were solidly in first place and never relinquished their lead. By early June Allen was hitting .333 and his popularity with the fans soared. But the good feelings would soon fade.
On July 25 Allen injured his shoulder in a collision at first base. A few days later he left a game in the third inning and was not seen or heard from for two days. The Phillies reported him AWOL and announced he would be fined. When Allen finally showed up at Shea Stadium on July 30, he explained that he left the team to consult his own doctor about the injury. He was placed on the disabled list once again and the fines were rescinded. However, manager Danny Ozark, his authority compromised, contemplated resigning over the incident. Despite Allen’s month-long absence from the lineup, the Phillies increased their lead in the NL East to 15½ games by August 26.
By the time Allen was activated, on September 4, the Phillies were in the midst of a monumental collapse that brought back memories of 1964. The Phils saw their lead dwindle to four games over the suddenly-hot Pittsburgh Pirates. Allen played poorly and erratically through much of September, and his average dropped from .290 to .257 in just three weeks. He was benched by Ozark during a weekend series in Chicago for supposedly refusing to pinch-hit during one of the games. Off the field, dissension brewed in the Phillies clubhouse as Allen openly criticized the lack of playing time given to black players such as Bobby Tolan and Ollie Brown.
The Phillies rebounded and clinched the National League East title in Montreal on September 26. As the team celebrated on the field, Allen remained in the dugout. His explanation was that he was too overcome with emotion to go onto the field, but many of the players saw it as a snub. As the Phillies sprayed champagne in the clubhouse, Allen, Garry Maddox, Dave Cash, and Mike Schmidt celebrated in a supply room. This only added to the racial climate surrounding the team. While Allen was popular with some teammates, others considered him a phony.
Before the Phillies opened the League Championship Series, Allen announced that he would not play unless his longtime friend and teammate Tony Taylor was placed on the active roster. Taylor, who played sparingly in 1976, was at the end of a long career and never had the opportunity to play in the postseason for the Phillies. This put Ozark in a precarious spot, since the Phillies did not have room on the roster for the aging Taylor, and wanted to avoid yet another Allen controversy. Finally, owner Ruly Carpenter intervened and a solution was arrived at; the Phillies put Taylor in uniform as a coach.
The Phillies were swept in three games by the powerful Big Red Machine Cincinnati Reds. Allen went 2-for-9 and made a crucial error in Game Two that cost the Phillies two runs. It was a foregone conclusion before the playoffs began that because of his age, injuries, and disruptive behavior, he would not return to the Phillies in 1977. On November 5, 1976, Allen was officially and unceremoniously released. His return to the Phillies had proved to be a disappointment.
There was little interest in Allen’s services that offseason, save for the Oakland A’s, who were in dire need of players after most of their established stars opted for free agency. On March 10, 1977, Allen signed with Charlie Finley’s ballclub. Allen said, “I thank God I’m here today and have a job in baseball.”46 That season, he wore the number 60 and the name “WAMPUM” on the back of his uniform as a tribute to his high-school graduation.
Allen played well in the early part of the 1977 season. He went 4-for-8 in a three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins, and on April 25 was hitting .353 with four home runs. But things soon soured. Unknown to manager Jack McKeon, Allen had a contract condition that excused him from being a designated hitter. When McKeon penciled in Allen as the DH in the last game of the opening series, Allen refused to play. He slumped in early May and was having shoulder problems.
Allen hit what turned out to be his final major-league home run on May 17, a game-tying blast in the ninth inning off the Yankees’ Ron Guidry. Still, his production continued to decline. On June 19 Allen struck out as a pinch hitter in the second game of a doubleheader in Chicago. It was his last at-bat in the major leagues. The next night he left the bench during a game without permission. Finley walked into the clubhouse, found Allen showering, and suspended him for a week. Allen decided that he had had enough and was through playing for the season. He returned to the A’s in 1978 spring training, but was released on March 28 without ever appearing in a game.
Allen finished his career at the age of 35 with a .292 average, 351 home runs, and 1,119 RBIs. After baseball, he endured many personal tragedies and was estranged from the game for several years. But in the 1980s he began to rebuild his life. Allen worked briefly with the Texas Rangers as a coach in spring training in 1982. He also appeared at baseball card shows in the Philadelphia area, and played in several Cracker Jack Old-Timer’s games throughout the major leagues. In 1989 his autobiography, Crash, co-written with Tim Whitaker, was published and received a number of favorable reviews.
In 1994 Allen was hired by the Phillies as a spring-training batting instructor and a community fan representative. That same year he was inducted into the Phillies’ Wall of Fame.
In 2001 Allen made a cameo appearance in Mike Tollin’s film Summer Catch. He also had a brief role as a gambler in the 2005 film Dreamer. In 2003 he was one of many Phillies’ alumni who participated in the closing ceremonies at Veterans Stadium. In 2009 he was invited by the Phillies to throw out the first ball at the opening game of the 2009 NLDS at Citizens Bank Park.
In July 2010 Allen was selected as an inductee into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame. That day, he reflected on the reaction he received from the fans: “I get stopped all the time by these fellows whose dads had taken them to the ballpark. I appreciate them. And they appreciate me because I didn’t cheat them.”47 Allen had mellowed, and professed that his love for Philadelphia was sincere: “You see how things turn around? You see how rewarding it is? I’m proud of this city. It’s in my heart.”
As of early 2013, Allen, 71, and his wife, Willa, resided in Wampum, Pennsylvania, and Los Angeles.