Monday, August 15, 2011

Player Profile: Neil Allen

Be sure to check out the latest installment of This Week in Baseball Cards at the Hall of Very Good! Featuring the answers to last week's quiz!

I have 26 cards of Neil Allen. This one is from 1986 Fleer.

Playing career: Neil Allen came up with the Mets and was their closer from 1980 to 1982. In 1983 they traded him to the Cardinals for Keith Hernandez. In 1985 he was purchased by the Yankees, and he bounced back and forth between the Yankees and White Sox, finally ending his career with Cleveland in 1989.

Where he is now: Pitching coach for the Rays’ AAA team.

My memories: Growing up in the mid-80s I always had a soft spot for the White Sox. The Topps sticker books arranged the teams alphabetically so the Yankees and White Sox always were on facing pages. The two teams were the only ones with white letters in 1986 Topps. And, many players like Neil Allen were traded between the two teams back then. My other memory of him is that he pitched a shutout that wasn’t a complete game for the Yankees in 1988 when the starting pitcher was injured on the first play of the game. Allen came in and got all 27 outs without allowing a run. I remember it happening but didn’t watch that particular game.

Interesting stories: The Ultimate Mets Database has a lot of interesting tidbits sent in by fans. Some of them reference his drinking problem, which Allen has admitted to. In this 1990 article written by then-Daily News writer Michael Kay, Allen describes his troubles in detail. He first claimed to be an alcoholic in 1983, and the Mets sent him to treatment. However, his teammates weren’t buying it. For example, teammate Tom Seaver said “Problem, my foot. He’s got no problem. He’s using it as a crutch, because he won’t face up to the real problem. He’s having a rough time.” Terrific teammate, Tom.

Google Autocomplete results: He is eighth when you type Neil A, between Neil Armstrong Death (the astronaut is still alive) and Neil Austrian (CEO of Office Depot). Another prominent Neil Allen is a neurologist in Illinois.

Coming up next: The next profile will be Rod Allen.

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