Buried Treasure: Rich Allen and the Ebonistics - Echoes of November (1968)


After music baseball has always been my number two passion in life with the possible exception of a few Octobers when the Philadelphia Phillies made the playoffs. Both the sport and the art form have been a huge part of my life since childhood with the Phillies functioning as my primary obsession only until February 9, 1964. That Sunday evening, an unknown rock quartet from Liverpool, UK appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. Music took over my life quickly after that and I never looked back.

That same year, after The Beatles blew up all around America and the rest of the world, The Phillies were making what was then an extremely rare run for a National League pennant that seemed inevitable until September when they blew a 6 1/2 game lead with only twelve to play. They lost ten games in a row before winning the last two of the season. Sadly, by that time it was too late. Unfortunately, there are still fans who haven't gotten over it. 

This team's roster included future Kentucky Senator and Hall-of-Famer, Jim Bunning as its star pitcher. Other prominent teammates were lefty Chris Short who won twenty games, all-star hero Johnny Callison, Tony Taylor, Bobby Wine, Wes Covington, Clay Dalrymple, Tony Gonzalez, and National League Rookie of the Year Dick Allen, who was dubbed Richie by the team's publicists - apparently to soften his image. Allen hated it and said the name made him sound like he was ten years old. 

Allen died December 7th at age 78 in his hometown of Wampum, PA so now it's likely that he'll be voted into the Hall of Fame in the near future. He should have been inducted decades ago. It was wrong to make him wait, but sometimes death is a good career move.

It turns out that Allen had another talent: music. In 1968, he was the lead singer for a local doo wop group, The Ebonistics. They made a record, "Echoes of November," that was released on a local Philadelphia label, Groovey Grooves Records. The song wasn't a big hit but it proved Allen could sing. Even though the third baseman was a big man he possessed a high tenor voice.   

The Ebonistics also performed at a Philadelphia 76ers basketball game. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer Allen's gig won over the crowd. "They cheered him as warmly as they ever cheered him for a game-winning home run."

There weren't many details about the Phillies of the 1960's that I didn't know, but Allen's brief singing career was one of them. I just learned about it the day after he passed away.

You can listen to Allen's record below.  

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