Happy birthday today to Bob Allison, he would have been 85. The former Senators/Twins slugger played for the Charlotte Hornets of the South Atlantic League (Sally Lg) in 1956. It was with the Hornets that Allison first met Harmon Killebrew, the two were roommates while playing for Charlotte and would develop a close friendship. Playing in 122 games for the Hornets, Allison would hit 12 HRs while batting .233 in 344 at-bats. While not thought of as a power hitting outfielder, it was with Charlotte that Allison gave a glimpse of his strength with the bat.
Surprising his peers in his first full season in the Majors, Allison would hit 30 HRs with the Senators in 1959. Not only would Bob win AL Rookie of the Year that season, he would also earn the first of 3 All-Star selections over his career. Pairing with teammate Killebrew, the two sluggers would often be referred to as “Mr. Upstairs” (Killebrew) and “Mr. Downstairs” (Allison). Allison remarked about his line-drive home runs (aka “Downstairs), “I’ve never been much of a long-ball hitter, I swing down at the ball and I’m more of a line-drive hitter.”
Allison totaled 1,281 hits, 256 HRs and batted .255 with an .829 OPS during his 13-year Major League career — all with the Senators/Twins organization. In 1971, the Twins celebrated Allison’s career by making him the first-ever professional athlete honored by Minneapolis-St. Paul with B.A.T. Day (Bob Allison Tribute Day) on September 9th. Allison was known for just as many community related contributions off the field with the Twins as he was on the field. Sadly, after his baseball career, Allison was diagnosed with ataxia in his late 50s and passed away at age 60 in 1995.