In a large portion of the Negro League baseball lore about the Kansas City Monarchs, one name consistently appears; “Newt” Allen. Except for a brief period with three other teams in the early 1930s, the “gold glove” fielding infielder was with the renowned franchise for 22 years (1922 – 1944).
Although born in Austin, Texas on May 19, 1901, Newton Henry Allen was attending high school in Kansas City when he came into the baseball talent vision of Monarchs’ owner James Leslie Wilkinson. Allen, in 1922 began first with Wilkinson’s All Nations team which was not only racially mixed but also had players from different nationalities and ethnic groups. By the end of the season, he was playing with the Monarchs.
An excellent contact hitter, the 5’ 7” or 8” and 160 pound Allen according to available Negro League statistics consistently hit near .300 or above. A fast runner with base stealing speed, he was also excellent at bunting and hitting behind the runners on the hit & run play. “Newt” had the versatility to play any position on the infield, but his main one was second base. From the mid 1920’s to early 1930’s, many baseball historians believe there were no better second basemen not only in the Negro Leagues; but in all of professional baseball better than “Newt” Allen.
In Allen’s years as a Kansas City Monarch, the team won the Negro National League pennant in 1923 – 1925, and 1929. Allen played in the first Negro League Baseball World Series in 1924 when the Monarchs beat the Hilldale Club of Darby, Pennsylvania who represented the Eastern Colored League (ECL). After joining the newly formed Negro American League (NAL) in 1937, the Monarchs won the first five NAL pennants. In 1942, the Negro League World Series was reinstated pitting the Monarchs against the Homestead Grays of the Negro National League (NAL) which had been resurrected in 1933. Allen helped the team defeat the Grays to win its second Negro League Baseball World Championship.
After Monarchs’ manager Andy Cooper died suddenly from a stroke in 1941, Allen managed the team for the remainder of the season. He also came out of retirement to manage the Indianapolis Clowns in 1947.
Negro League baseball fans were aware of Allen’s talents. They selected him to participate in four Negro League East West All Star Games.
“Newt” Allen has to be included in the ongoing debate as to which players, either former Negro League or Major League, deserve a plaque at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
How many of “Newt” Allen’s former Monarch teammates are in the Hall of Fame?