Friday, April 26, 2013

#539 - Lloyd Allen

If there was an AL equivalent for what happened to Steve Blass over in the NL this guy’s season was probably it. Now Lloyd here didn’t have nearly the pre-’73 career that Blass did, but his Angels stats – which represented his whole career through ’72 – were 8-15 with a 3.04 ERA. In ’73 he went 0-6 with a 9.42 ERA. What happened? It began in ’72 when a hamstring injury in May took him out for a couple weeks. After going 0-1 with a 1.69 ERA before the injury, Lloyd went 3-6 with a 4.08 the rest of the way. Lloyd was a power pitcher with a big fastball and slider and after the injury he couldn’t push off the mound as well. Then in ’73 he hurt a shoulder after a fight with nearly former teammate Ed Kirkpatrick in a game against KC. After a few nasty relief innings for the Angels early in the season he went to Texas with Jim Spencer for Mike Epstein, Rick Stelmaszek, and Rich Hand. The Rangers were hoping Lloyd could return to his pre-injury days but after the fight it was more problems with the arm and before you knew it Lloyd couldn’t buy a win up top. So that gloomy sky behind him at Yankee Stadium was pretty indicative of Lloyd’s recent baseball past and near future and this would be his final card.

Lloyd Allen grew up in the small town of Selma, California where he was a big Yankees fan and played the big three sports through high school. There he went 36-7 with a 0.78 ERA and 588 strikeouts in 314 innings for his career, all good enough numbers to make him the Angels’ first round pick of the ’68 draft. He got on a good track pretty quickly, that first summer in pro ball going 4-3 in ten starts with a 2.62 ERA with better than a strikeout an inning in Rookie and A ball. In ’69 he went 10-14 but with a 2.77 ERA in instructional, A, and Triple A ball and added his debut in Anaheim that September though he got rocked around a bit. He then spent most of ’70 in Double A where he went 12-8 despite a spike in his ERA to 4.56. In late August he returned to California where he wrapped up his season nicely as a set up and spot guy.

In ’71 Allen moved to both the pen and California full-time and put together a nice season as the year was falling apart for the rest of the team. He recorded 15 saves as the staff closer and seemed to be on the same path in ’72 until the hamstring problem. He finished that year with five saves as his walks topped his K’s and followed that up with his disastrous ’73. In ’74 he worked infrequently the first half of the season – Billy Martin had zero tolerance for faulty pitching – and though he dropped his ERA a ton, it was only to 6.44. In late June he was taken off waivers by the White Sox and for the rest of the season split time between Chicago – where his ERA returned to double digits – and Triple A, where he went 1-3 in the rotation with a 3.41 ERA. Up top for the season he was 0-2 in twenty games with a 7.45 ERA. More poor numbers in Chicago in ’75 meant the bulk of the year was spent in Triple A where he actually threw quite well, going 9-2 with a 3.42 ERA as a starter in a season split between the Chicago and St. Louis after a mid-year sale. In ’76 for the Cards he went 11-6 with a 2.81 ERA again at Tulsa though those numbers did not prompt a call-up but a release. He was picked up by the new Toronto Blue Jays and nearly made it through spring training until his release. He then attempted short comebacks each of the next three seasons with Iowa, back in the White Sox chain. None of them went terribly well and he retired during the ’79 season. Lloyd finished with a record of 8-25 with a 4.69 ERA and 22 saves up top and 52-45 with a 3.66 ERA in the minors. He also hit .200 against MLB pitching.

Allen got involved in the restaurant business away from playing and by 1980 had become a franchise representative for various chains. He has for a bunch of years now been vice president of international franchising for Escape Enterprises, a steak chain.

Lloyd has some pretty good star bullets, but there are better ones. He led his baseball team to league championships all four seasons of his high school career and in one season threw three consecutive no-hitters. According to Bobby Valentine, Bill Buckner was so pissed that Lloyd was drafted ahead of him in ’68 that in a minor league game he vowed to line a pitch off Allen’s head. That he did; pretty painful retribution. I have not been able to dig up any of Lloyd’s football stats but he was inducted into Selma High School’s hall of fame earlier this year.

So Lloyd and Cesar were teammates in ’74 but Lloyd had too few innings on the mound for the Rangers that year. Let’s use a guy who came over from California with him:

1. Allen and Jim Spencer ’69 to ’73 Angels and ’74 Rangers;
2. Spencer and Cesar Tovar ’74 to ’75 Rangers.

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