On Dec. 2, 1971, White Sox general manager Roland Hemond acquired the enigmatic but super-talented Dick Allen from the Los Angeles Dodgers for pitcher Tommy John and infielder Steve Huntz.
It was a deal that provided the White Sox with a superstar drawing card and it carried the franchise through the middle part of the decade when it desperately needed an identity.
“That club was in dire straits when Chuck Tanner and I joined them in September of 1970,” Hemond said. “We made quite a number of trades that first winter and improved by 23 games (from 56-106 in 1970 to 79-83 in 1971).
“The next year, Al Campanis of the Dodgers said he would consider trading Dick Allen. He wanted Tommy John and Terry Forster. I said, ‘ I can’t give you Forster. He could be another Koufax.’ In any event, we arrived at a trade.
“Chuck Tanner had known Dick real well. They lived in the same area. I said, ‘Chuck, what do you think? ’ And Chuck said, ‘ I’d love to have him.’ ”
Allen went on to win the 1972 American League MVP Award in becoming (with the help of the club’s TV voice Harry Caray) one of the most popular figures in Chicago.
The sheer force of Allen’s talent kept the Sox in the hunt for the Western Division title for most of that season before they succumbed to the eventual World Series champion Oakland A’s.
“Allen came and he was a success story, the MVP,” Hemond said. “The club drew over a million. If (third baseman Bill) Melton (who had won the last two A. L. home run titles) didn’t come up with a herniated disc in mid-season, he played just 60 games that year, I think that club would have gone onto the World Series.”