Sam was the only Allen child, born on April 25, 1936. His father died when he was a just young boy. His mother, with the help of his grandfather, raised her “Pride and Joy” in Norfolk, Virginia. She would worry so much about him that in all of his years of baseball, she could only bear to see him play in one game. As a boy, he and his Grandfather use to visit the Norfolk Stars games when they were in town. His neighborhood buddy and lifelong friend Walt Lundy shared a fascination and love for baseball. Around their neck of the woods, year-round baseball was not uncommon and these guys certainly made it a point to be playing wherever and whenever they could.
As a young man, hungry for baseball success, Sam attended a baseball mini-camp in Cincinnati. Here he ran into Kansas City Monarch pitcher, now NLB Living Legend, Bob Mitchell. The camp was extremely crowded - overridden with an influx of Cuban talent. It turned out that Sam would be released. Mr. Mitchell caught up with Sam before he left town and invited him down to Jacksonville Florida to attend the Kansas City Monarchs training camp. Sam was on his way. Dizzy Dismuke was the manager of the Monarchs at that time. As he arrived in Jacksonville, Sam met and befriended Jim Robinson, K.C. Monarch infielder (another NLB Living Legend). He checked in and immediately boarded the bus for a trip to South Carolina to play in an all-star tournament. The Monarchs were scheduled to play a Jacksonville all-star team on Easter Sunday. It seemed Jacksonville was short a few players, so Sam was summoned to suit up for them. He did, and played the game of his life. Dismuke called for Sam and signed him later that very day.
In 1958, while playing for the Raleigh Tigers, Sam witnessed a lean line up in the teams pitching department. It would be tough to win many games with a heavy schedule and little pitching. One night, while the team traveled through Welch, West Virginia, the Raleigh Tiger bus broke down. The bus was towed into town and the team was put up in a local hotel. While repairs were underway, the team owner, without mention to the players, left Welch, WV and headed back to Raleigh on his own. Although many of the players had resented being left behind - the show had to go on.
The following year, the Memphis Red Sox rolled into Raleigh for an early season match-up. Sam and his teammate Rock-Eye Hayward were anxiously awaiting their arrival. They had heard such great things about the Red Sox Organization. Sam recalls the professionalism and class presented within the Red Sox organization. Team owner, Dr. Martin, owned his personal ballpark. The opportunity to leave the Tigers showed it’s face, so Sam and Rock-eye joined the roster of the Red Sox club and barnstormed the countryside with them. Things were looking good!
But all things were not so great. Although segregation in baseball had been broken nearly ten years earlier, the process of integrating the teams throughout the majors was sluggish. It was not until the Boston Red Sox integrated their roster in 1959 that every team employed a black athlete. Integrating society; cities, towns, neighborhoods, and schools across the country was a process that was in it’s early infancy. Negro League players interacting with the public was often times difficult and sometimes downright ugly. Barnstorming tours and travel were sometimes met with social ignorance at filling stations to meals in public restaurants. Sam remembers stopping at restaurants and being denied access through the front door. They would be directed to enter through the backdoor of the kitchen to get their grub. It was not uncommon to be refused rest room use at service stations along the road.
In 1960, Sam Allen was assigned to the 82nd Airborne U.S. Army 2nd 504th Division. He played ball for the Fort Bragg Baseball team and trained hard to play for the football team as well. His athletic prowess kept him busy on the baseball and football field and out of much of the daily training routines. At the end of his army service, he returned to civilian life and worked in the trades in tile flooring. After 2 years in the trade, he took a job as a longshoreman down on the waterfront for 7 years. He has since gone back to the floor company where he continues to works today. He is one of 59 players acknowledged and recognized in this NLB Living Legend Program. He may also be found traveling with Yesterday’s Baseball Group, signing memorabilia, and speaking to children.