Archie! (April 16, 1978)
Archie! (April 16, 1978)
Springfield College--Sports; Springfield College--Alumni and alumnae; Springfield College--Faculty; Springfield College; Springfield College--Baseball;
Allen, Archie; baseball; retirement; coach; head coach; article; Sunday Republican;
“Archie!” is an article written by Jim Regan for the April 16, 1978 issue of The Sunday Republican. This article describes the baseball career of Archie Allen (March 18, 1913 – November 1, 2006), from his start playing at Pittsfield High School to his distinguished coaching career at Springfield College (1948-1978). He is one of the best-known coaches in Springfield College history and was selected to the Springfield College Athletic hall of Fame’s first class in 1972. Archie was the head coach for three of the four times in its baseball history that Springfield College reached the College World Series.
Although his high school baseball career was limited to a couple of innings in his senior year at Pittsfield High School, Springfield College coach Archie Allen is retiring this spring with an international recognition as a baseball authority. Allen, who will be completing 31 seasons directing the Chiefs’ nine, recalls “I was cut twice by coach Chuck Stewart and played only a couple of innings as a senior. Later when I started at Springfield College, he asked me why I hadn’t told him I could play baseball.” From this inauspicious beginning, Allen became an outstanding college outfielder, a standout hitter in the minor leagues, one of the winningest coaches in New England history, coach of national teams of three countries, and one of the most-sought after clinic directors and lecturers. Allen did get his baseball start in his home town, playing after his senior year with the Morningside All-Stars whose roster also numbered his pal, Dr. John Madden, now director of physical education at Brooklyn College, and Roger O’Gara, recently retired sports editor of The Berkshire Eagle. It was in basketball and football that Allen was a regular at Pittsfield High School from which he was graduated in 1932. He played all three major sports as a freshman at Springfield College where he enrolled in the fall of 1933. One of the first bonus ‘babies,” Allen gave up football his senior year at the insistence of the New York Yankees who had signed him before graduation to a contract for $500. “I still played baseball, things weren’t as strict in those days,” laughs Allen. After winding up at SC, Allen was assigned to Norfolk of the Piedmont League by the Yankees. “I really got booed when NI first started, but the same fans were patting me on the back when I began to hit,” Allen remembers. And hit he did. In his first year in pro ball, Allen led the league with a hefty .359 average, earning him promotion to Binghamton of the Eastern League. Allen continued as a solid hitter, finishing up well over .300. “The Yankee scouts told me I’d make it to the majors. But, somewhere along the line, I was overlooked. Perhaps it was because I lacked the speed. They didn’t trade prospects the way they do now, but the Yankees could see there wasn’t much room at the top with Joe DiMaggio, Charlie Keller and Tom Henrich in the outfield,” analyzes Allen. Eventually, Allen had his contract picked up for a time by Tulsa, then a farm club of the Chicago Cubs. “I batted cleanup, but they lost interested in me when they had a chance to pick up Dizzy Dean, whose big league career was shortened by injury, as a box office attraction. They didn’t have much money. I moved out and he moved right into my locker,” says Allen of the baseball Hall of Famer. Allen notes that many of the Tulsa players advanced the next year to Los Angeles in the Pacific Coast League, helping the Chicago Cubs to win the National League pennant in 1945. Len Merullo, now a baseball scout, and Peanuts Lowrey, two Cub standouts, and Ed Waitkus, with the Phillies in 1950 when they won the N.L. flag, were teammates of Allen. Last stop in organized baseball came at Scranton in the Eastern League where Allen proved he could still hit. Scranton was then a Red Sox farm club. “So, if I go back into pro baseball, I’m Red Sox property,” smiles Allen. Allen, one of whose nicknames was Beef, feels his fielding wasn’t the deterrent in reaching the top. And many newspaper accounts at the time indicate Archie came up with some defensive gems. Springfield College basketball coach Ed Bilik, who played baseball in college under Allen, can remember his tutor at Binghamton. “I grew up in that area and recall Archie’s playing. I remind him even now that the story that used to go around was that he was a good fielder only on ladies’ day,” chuckles Bilik. With his pro playing days behind him, Allen then entered the teaching-coaching part of his career. He began in YMCA work in Binghamton, but switched a year later to Bristol, R.I., High School to coach football, basketball and baseball for three years. He later succeeded Ed Sawyer, who became a Phillies’ manager, as baseball coach at North High School in Binghamton, where he also coached football. In the spring of 1947, Archie Allen accepted an invitation “to come home” to Springfield College. He accepted—a decision he never regretted. “Actually, I felt that my future in coaching was in football, but I took over in baseball after serving as assistant to John Bunn my first year back,” Allen admits. Baseball and Allen have become synonymous at the Alden St. campus where as a professor of physical education all courses in baseball came under his jurisdiction. Of course, Allen has become best known for his baseball teams which compiled the amazing record of 420 victories against 236 losses going into his final and 31st year. Allen was among the first group to be recognized when Springfield college initiated its Athletic Hall of Fame in November, 1972. In January, 1973, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the College Baseball Coaches of America. “It’s great to win, but the records are not meaningful. I’ve been interested in doing a good job. Coaching so the kids have a satisfying experience has been my goal,” describes Allen of his philosophy. A slugger himself, Allen has gained recognition for his inside baseball, both offensively and defensively. “I like the hit-and-run and the steal when you have the speed. I’d rather not bunt, but I do love the squeeze play,” says Allen of his diamond strategy. “I enjoy putting the pressure on the opposition. It force them into mistakes. You have the edge if you get them thinking about your game. Then I’ve been blessed with coachable kids. The success of the program has given them confidence and made believers out of them,” reports the veteran coach. ‘Archie’s a fundamentalist, a strategist and an innovator, always looking for new things. He’s won the esteem of his peers, they just flock around him at conventions. He has earned respect as a person for his knowledge and success,” relates assistant coach Charlie Roys, who takes over next season. Roys, who played for Allen at SC, also lists his old coach’s willingness and ability to help his former players as a major asset. Bob D’Agostino, director of athletics at Longmeadow High school, also offers high praise of Allen. “I never played for a coach who put you in such a relaxed situation. Yet, you’d break your back for him because of the respect you had for him and his knowledge of the game. The atmosphere was outstanding. I’ve never known a more congenial man,” says D’Ag. “I know Archie has never been overly concerned with records, but I think he should be recognized for one area in which he holds all the marks,” concludes D’Agostino, noting “Archie has the Cheyney Hall one-day, single season and career records for eating ice cream.” Many of Allen’s pupils advanced to professional baseball and to the major leagues, but he’s not willing to pick an all-star team. “At the time they were here, they were the best. How do you compare one period with another? I did think that perhaps Wayne Wilson (1957-58) was my best all-around player, but he was injured playing basketball,” reveals Allen. “Archie Moore, Alan Putz and Glenn Adams (now with the Minnesota Twins) were great hitters and Kevin Keith holds records for homers and RBI,” continues Allen. But, the SC coach doesn’t live in the past. He rates current third baseman Jay Jordan along with Bill Howard as the tops at third base. Allen also can’t pick his best team. “I got my biggest thrill out of the 1951 team that went to the College World Series in Omaha. I can’t say it was the best, but we did beat Texas A & M, the tourney favorite in the first round. I remember we stole home twice—Sherm Kinney and Ed Redmond of Deerfield. Bill Nordberg was the winning pitcher,” relates Allen. “I also fell in love with my 1969 team—it should have gone all the way in Division II,” claims Allen of the team which lost in the finals of the regionals to Florida Southern. The 1969 team set the SC record of most victories with 27 and sent a half dozen players into pro ranks. Allen coached the 1963 U.S. Pan-Am team, the 1964 Netherlands nine which won the European championship and the South Africa nationals two years ago. The SC coach has logged many miles in his trips to Alaska and Hawaii, before they were states, Netherlands, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Japan, Korea, Okinawa, South Africa and Italy. In his retirement, Allen hopes to continue his involvement in baseball, conducting clinics and working in my garden, I just love flowers,” predicts Allen. Another trip the Allens will be making developed Saturday night. They were presented with tickets for a flight to Ireland at a testimonial party held on the SC campus with some 400 in attendance. Archie doesn’t figure to discover any diamond tallen in Ireland, but he wants to check out his heritage as his late mother came from the Emerald Isle. In other appropriate recognition, coach Allen was presented home plate from Berry Field. Announcement was also made that his home uniform, No. 31, ironically the number of years he coached at Springfield is being retired. “They may as well give him his uniform, it won’t fit anybody else,” declared D’Agnostino, but the mist in the Longmeadow AD’s eyes showed he meant his remark in more than a physical way.; ARCHIE!; C-6 THE SUNDAY REPUBLICAN, APRIL 16, 1978; By Jim Regan; Springfield College’s dean of baseball winding down long, fruitful career; The Archie Allen of 1978 strides toward the mound for a chat with a pitcher.; The Archie Allen of 1935, ready to smack one for dear old SC.; Breaking the ice in the Berry Field dugout of old, Archie Allen works with (from left) Bob Coakley, Bill Sullivan and Chuck Roys.; When Allen coached for a summer in The Netherlands, his team won a championship and really enjoyed it. So did Archie.; Coach Archie got a big lift from his 1969 team, which won Eastern NCAA regional honors. One of the players giving him a lift is Glenn Adams (right), now with Minnesota Twins.
The Sunday Republican
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Archie Allen Collection
Archie Allen - Biographical Information - Articles
Regan, Jim, “Archie! (April 16, 1978),” Digital Commonwealth , accessed December 12, 2013, http://www.digitalcommonwealth.org/items/show/72239.