Today is the day that the Baseball Writers of America release the names of the players set to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. It is also the day when every other baseball writer writes his or her article on what player isn't in the Hall of Fame but should be. I am no exception to this rule.
This year I decided to be very biased with my selection of Newt Allen of the Kansas City Monarchs. Yes he is from Austin, TX and yes he is included in my ongoing Central Texas blackball history research but I feel that his career completely justifies his inclusion and overrides any and all personal biases I have in this regard.
Newt was born in 1902 in Austin but at some point after his father's death in 1910 his family moved to Kansas City. In 1920 J.L. Wilkinson formed the Kansas City Monarchs who would become one of the top Negro League teams of all time. They began to play not far from where Allen lived and the 18 year old worked as their ice boy and even as an extra body at times during practice. He started out the 1921 season in the same capacity before he joined the Omaha Federals and had an excellent season which led him to being asked to play for the Monarchs beginning in the 1922 season. By the time his career was complete, the 5'8" Allen spent the next 23 years manning 2nd base for the team and became their manager in 1941. Sources from baseball ambassador Buck O'Neil to legendary New York Giants manager John McGraw referred to him as the best 2nd basemen in the Negro Leagues with McGraw wishing the league would let him sign Allen to his National League ballclub. In 1931 he spent the season with the St Louis Stars where he joined with fellow Austinite and future Hall of Famer Willie Wells to form one of the best double play combos in baseball history. And while accurate records are hard to come by for Allen, and many other Negro League players, the ones available have his career batting average hovering around .300 which is impressive considering the steep decline in his hitting as he entered his late 30's and 40's.
After he retired he stayed in Kansas City and became a foreman at the county courthouse and passed away in 1988. As with many deserving Negro League players, Allen was forgotten or overlooked on Hall of Fame ballots. With the Special Committee on Negro Leagues this was hoped to be remedied but of the 17 blackball players inducted by the committee, Newt Allen was not one of them.
The Center for Negro League Baseball Research has this excellent .pdf document going much more in depth on Newt Allen's career, statistics, and accomplishments with some great pictures included.
Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
Voices From the Great Black Baseball Leagues by John Holway