One of the relatively few early-era baseball players to jump straight
from the college campus to major league baseball was Ethan Allen. Allen,
after his days as a Cincinnati Reds outfielder, gained fame as baseball
coach for Yale's Elis.
The year was 1926, Allen's senior year at the University of Cincinnati.
He had established himself as a standout in baseball, basketball and
track for the Bearcats. It would be the season he went from the college
sandlot to Redland Field, the name of Cincinnati's home field in the
"The Reds offered me a bonus of $3,500 to sign, plus $5,000 more if I
made the team," Allen recalled in an interview in the Chapel Hill (N.C.)
"Actually they could have had me for
$2,500 the year before if
they'd been willing to put that sum up, but they declined to go any
higher than $1,500.
"Then Detroit and Cleveland got interested in me, and I spent a week on
the road with the Indians under Tris Speaker, and three days in Detroit
with Ty Cobb. The upshot was that Detroit offered me $8,500 to sign with
them, and the Reds had to match that offer."
Allen spent most of that first season sitting on Cincinnati's bench,
playing in only 18 games. From there he went on to join the select
circle of lifetime .300 hitters, batting an even .300 in his career that
ended in 1938 when he was released by the St. Louis Browns.
Allen was always interested in the scientific approach to baseball. The
result was his first book on the game in 1938 entitled
Baseball Play and Strategy.
"When I came up there was little teaching of the fundamentals
done," Allen said.
"You were supposed to pick up
everything on your own. I wanted to do something that would make it
easier for young players to learn the fundamentals of the game."
the same time, Allen developed an interest in movies and, when he was
released by the Browns, he began to produce baseball movies for the
1941 Allen marketed his own baseball game for kids called "All-Star
Baseball." A second, more advanced game, "Strategic All-Star Baseball,"
came out in 1969.
"When I first introduced the game back in 1941," Allen recalled, "I had
no trouble getting permission from various big league players to use
disks with their records and skills. Bur nowadays the players have
agents and so forth, and some want to be paid for having their records
used. You'd think they would have wisdom enough to see that the
publicity was worth more to them in the long run."
Allen played for the Reds only three full seasons. After a slow
start in 1930, he was traded to
John McGraw's New York Giants. He spent two years there and went to the
Cardinals. From there, it was on to Philadelphia the next year. He was
with the Cubs in 1936 and finished out his
career with St. Louis in 1938.