At 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, Bob Allison was such a strong man that he
manhandled 6-foot-6, 220-pound Don Drysdale during a spring training
game in 1961.
The Los Angeles Dodgers' Drysdale had thrown a fastball at Twins' outfielder
Lenny Green after shortstop Zoilo Versalles homered off Drysdale.
Later in the game, Drysdale covered home plate on a play and Green came in with
his spikes high. Drysdale threatened the 5-foot-9 Green.
Allison was the on-deck batter. He wrapped his arms around Drysdale in a
bear hug from behind and lifted the pitcher off the ground. Drysdale
immediately lost his mood.
George Lentz was the trainer for both the Washington Senators and the
football Redskins when Allison came to the major leagues. He called Allison
"the fellow I'd least like to grab me when he's mad."
But Allison was a peacemaker on the field, never tossing a punch. During one
of his minor-league seasons in Chattanooga, New Orleans' manager Peanuts
Lowry charged from the dugout with a bat to take on a Chattanooga pitcher
who had thrown at a batter. Allison charged in, wrapped up the 170-pound
manager and carried him back to the dugout.
Allison and Harmon Killebrew were the Mantle &
Maris of the 1960's Twins.
A San Francisco 49er?
A former college football player, Allison became the American League Rookie
of the Year in 1959. It surprised even Allison, who had claimed earlier that
season he never really thought of himself as a big-league baseball player.
In fact, after his sophomore year as a fullback at Kansas University,
Allison filled out a inquiry form from the San Francisco 49ers. He loved
baseball more than football, but completed the form as a backup plan in the
event he didn't make the grade in baseball.
His father, a former semi-pro catcher, felt differently. Lou Allison
coached his son in American Legion ball and felt the kid was a natural at
baseball, although he hoped both his sons would become veterinarians.
Lou Allison was more excited about his son's financial future than the
Rookie of Year Award itself. He knew Bob hoped to finish his college degree at
Kansas University, and thought the award might lead to a better contract that
would help pay for remaining college courses.
Allison was 25 when he won the ROY award. Brother Jim, two years younger,
was also a good ballplayer. But Jim married young and decided not to become a
ballplayer when he saw how tough it was for his older brother to make a living
during his four-year minor league career.