Bernie Allen, Ted Williams didn't agree
Allen said he sometimes didn't understand Williams' managerial decisions with the Senators.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
POLAND -- Bernie Allen didn't always understand Ted Williams' managerial decisions. Nor did he always agree with them.
Williams may have been one of baseball's greatest players, but, according to Allen, he wasn't one of the best managers.
"He wasn't the best communicator I've had as a manager," said Allen, 63, an East Liverpool native who played for Williams' Washington Senators from 1969-71. "I did learn the art of hitting, which, of course, was his strong point."
Top of his game
With his uncanny ability to see and hit a ball, Williams became one of baseball's best hitters and the last player to bat .400 for a season, which he did for the Boston Red Sox in 1941 (.406).
In 1969, nine years after his final playing season, Williams took over as manager of the Senators, for whom Allen played from 1967-71.
"It was hard to know what was expected out of you as a player," said Allen, during the John Hirschbeck Charity Golf Outing on Monday at Fonderlac Country Club. "Him and I didn't always agree. Let's put it that way."
Allen remembers going to the ball park one day, feeling confident about his production at the plate. But when he looked at the day's lineup, his name was nowhere to be found.
"I was the hottest hitter on the team at the time," he said. "I wasn't even in the lineup. [Williams] decided he wanted to try somebody else."
Another time, in a game against Minnesota, Allen was left out of the lineup, even though the Senators were to face a pitcher, Jim Perry, whom Allen hit well.
"Before the game, [Williams] comes up to me and says, 'Bernie, I know you hit Perry better than anyone else on the team, but I'm not going to play you today,' " Allen recalled. "I didn't know what else to say, so I said, 'Oh, we're not trying to win today?' "
That wasn't the only thing that bothered Allen. Williams once imposed a $1,000 fine on any player who went golfing during the baseball season. Allen happened to be the player representative and a golfer.
Allen told Williams, "Ted, $1,000, my God, that's a lot of money."
Williams reasoned that golf would ruin a baseball player's swing.
"I told him that it couldn't hurt my swing," Allen said. "I bat left-handed. I play golf right-handed."
"Why do you do a dumb thing like that for?" Williams asked.
Allen said, "Because I don't want to ruin my golf swing."
Williams walked away.
"I guess I frustrated him as much as he frustrated me," Allen said.
Still, Allen respected Williams, whom he idolized growing up. The two liked each other -- even if it was more so off the field.
"He was just a unique personality," Allen said, "and really not a bad person."
In the beginning
Allen, who resides in Carmel, Ind., began his professional baseball career as a 23-year-old second baseman with Minnesota in 1962.
He suffered a severe knee injury in his third year. Although he overcame it and played until 1973, including his final two seasons with the New York Yankees, Allen was never the same after.
Allen batted .239 in 12 seasons, so he can certainly appreciate the level of difficulty it took for Williams, who passed away last Friday at age 83, to bat .344 over 19 seasons.
"I don't think there's anybody better hitting-wise," Allen said. "I loved watching him swing the ball bat."