Johnny Allen (baseball)

John Thomas Allen (September 30, 1904 – March 29, 1959)[1] was an American pitcher in Major League Baseball (MLB), who played for the New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Browns, Brooklyn Dodgers, and New York Giants.[2]

Johnny Allen
Born: (1904-09-30)September 30, 1904
Lenoir, North Carolina, U.S.
Died: March 29, 1959(1959-03-29) (aged 54)
St. Petersburg, Florida, U.S.
Batted: Right
Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 19, 1932, for the New York Yankees
Last MLB appearance
September 26, 1944, for the New York Giants
MLB statistics
Win–loss record142–75
Earned run average3.75
Career highlights and awards

Early life


Born in Lenoir, North Carolina, Allen spent part of his youth in the Baptist orphanage in Thomasville, North Carolina, and he attended Thomasville High School.

Baseball career


Allen reached the Yankees in an unusual way. While working as a bellhop in a hotel, he was told to take some fans to the room of Yankee scout Paul Krichell. Allen told Krichell that he was a pitcher, and the scout arranged a tryout. Allen was an immediate success for the Yankees, debuting in 1932 with a 17–4 record and a 3.70 earned run average (ERA) for the world champions. He was less stellar in that year's World Series, starting Game 4 and leaving after giving up three runs off five hits in just 23 of an inning.[3]

Allen continued to post decent records for the Yankees, but a sore arm and his constant demands for more money threatened his career. For these reasons, Allen was dealt to the Indians before the 1936 season.[2]

Allen in 1934

Allen turned things around in Cleveland, going 20–10 with a 3.44 ERA in 1936 and following that up by winning his first fifteen decisions of 1937, one short of the record held by Walter Johnson. Allen lost his next start 1–0 on an unearned run, but his 15–1 mark that year set a winning percentage record that lasted until Roy Face bettered it with an 18–1 record in 1959. In 1938, Allen won his first twelve decisions and made his only All-Star team. During the All-Star break, he suffered an unknown injury, some claim he slipped on a bar of soap in the shower, and never did approach his earlier success again, finally retiring in 1944 after six mediocre campaigns. Allen's finished his 13-year career with a 142–75 record and one of the best winning percentages (.654) in MLB history.[4]

After retiring as a player, Allen became a minor league umpire, eventually becoming the umpire-in-chief of the Carolina League. He was posthumously inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, in 1977.[5]



On March 29, 1959, Allen died in St. Petersburg, Florida;[2] in retirement, he had been involved in the real estate business. Allen was 54 years old.[1]

Career summary


As a hitter, Allen posted a .173 career batting average (124-for-716), with 82 runs, four home runs, 64 runs batted in (RBI), and 33 bases on balls. Defensively, he recorded a .957 lifetime fielding percentage.

Tributes from peers


Baseball Hall of Fame member Al Simmons named Allen the toughest pitcher for him to hit[6] and Hall of Fame slugger Hank Greenberg named Allen among the five toughest pitchers he faced in his career.[7]


  1. ^ a b "Johnny Allen Obituary". The Deadball Era. March 30, 1959. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Weeks, Jon. "Johnny Allen". Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
  3. ^ Talonk (July 18, 2013). "Top 100 Indians: #43 Johnny Allen". SB Nation. Retrieved October 3, 2020.
  4. ^ Francis, Bill. "The Holy Shirt". National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Retrieved October 3, 2020.
  5. ^ "Johnny Allen 1977". North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. 1977. Retrieved October 3, 2020.
  6. ^ Jemail, Jimmy (August 8, 1955). "The Question: Who is or was the hardest pitcher for you to hit?". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
  7. ^ Greenberg, Hank; Berkow, Ira (1989). Hank Greenberg: The Story of My Life. Ivan R. Dee. p. 109. ISBN 9781461662389. Retrieved May 22, 2017.