Growing up, I remember that Dick Allen was considered a controversial figure, but I had no idea why, I was too young to comprehend those things. He passed away today, December 7, 2020, and the following text is from a story he tells in this video. The background is that the story takes place in 1963, in Little Rock, Arkansas, and he was a minor league baseball player:
They send me to Little Rock on a 24-hour recall, and left me there by myself. And when I say “myself,” I mean the only black player. Me being from Pennsylvania, I thought there was no racial tension, but geez, going to the soda machine to get a Pepsi out of the soda machine, and a cop car pulled in with the lights and there he is with a gun in my face. Hell, they’re trying to kill me right here. In America.
I come home, I think it was only a nickel or dime, and I put it in the pay phone. “Mama, I want to come home.”
You listen to me, boy, you hear me?
You put that phone to your ear. Do you hear me? Now God gave you to me. He’s given you a talent, and a place to show it. Don’t you let them drive you out. He’s given you that talent, and I’m your mother, if you do, you’re not being disobedient to me, you’re being disobedient to God.
I went home, laid across the bed, and cried like a baby. And then I got to thinking, well maybe she is right ... well, if they’re gonna kill me, let ’em kill me right in that batter’s box, I don’t mind at all.