Thursday, June 28, 2012
On this day in 1973, the apex of the White Sox injury troubles came in a freak injury to superstar Dick Allen.
When fans talk about the doom and gloom of the White Sox, visions of 1919 dance through the dreams of the casual fan; the 1970 team will come to mind for the more observant fan; the 1973 season will stand out for the die-hard fan. This was the season of hard luck injuries. In all, the ChiSox used the disabled list thirty-eight times!
Newly acquired Ken Henderson had torn up his knee sliding into home. Bill Melton, Carlos May and Pat Kelly had nagging injuries. Brian Downing injured his knee on a pop up during his first MLB game. In Anaheim, against the Angels, Mike Epstein crashed into Dick Allen and broke his leg, putting the final nail in the promising season. The Sox had stormed out of the gates and into first place, but the injury bug had a different outcome. Although the 1973 team won 77 games, a fully functioning squad was picked to win the division.
Dick came back strong in 1974, but left the Sox a few weeks before the season's end, due to an ongoing feud with an unhappy Ron Santo. Despite leaving in the middle of September, Allen still won the American League home run title in 1974. With the uncertainty of Dick's career, the Sox were forced to sell his contract to the Atlanta Braves after the season, but Allen announced his retirement instead of reporting to the Braves. The retirement was short lived, as he was coaxed out of retirement to play with the Phillies and ended his career with the Oakland Athletics in 1977. It was a long and strange journey for the 1972 AL MVP.