RIP to Luke Allen, an outfielder who had two trips to the major leagues in the 2000s. It has been widely reported that he died on April 26 at the age of 43. No cause of death has been publicly announced. Allen, who had been an instructor at Diamond Sports Academy, a girls’ softball training facility in Covington, Ga., was mourned by many of his former students and friends on social media posts. He was praised for his humor, his patience, and his dedication to his students. One of the things Allen would say to his students, according to a Facebook post, was, “Once you start believing in yourself, you’ll be unstoppable.” Allen played for the Los Angeles Dodgers (2002) and Colorado Rockies (2003).
Updates: Allen is survived by his three children, his mother, his siblings and his fiancé. The family-placed obituary is linked at the end of this article. His family has launched a GoFundMe to pay for expenses and provide his children with funds for education. If you wish to donate, go to https://gofund.me/3d0329fd
Lucas Gale Allen was born in Covington on August 4, 1978. His family moved to South Carolina, and he attended Byrnes High School as a freshman, but the Allens came back to Covington for the rest of his education. Allen came from an athletic family. While he was in Newton County High School in Covington, he was part of a high-powered offense with his older brother, Sam. They helped make the Newton Rams one of the toughest teams in the Class-AAAA division. Their sister Jessi was a talented softball player for Eastside High.
“Luke is one of the better players I’ve seen in baseball. He has a strong arm, can hit either way. Just the other day, he stole a home run from another kid, pulling the ball back over the fence and came back smiling,” said Allen’s American Legion coach, Luther Baker.
Allen played primarily in the outfield and could pitch as well. In his varsity career at Newton, he batted .425 and had an 18-4 record on the mound. After being named a Newton County All-Star, he signed an amateur contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1996 and entered pro ball the following year with the Great Falls Dodgers of the Rookie-Level Pioneer League. He was signed as a pitcher, but by the time he reached Great Falls, the organization decided to try him at third base. In his first season, he hit very well, leading the team with a .345 batting average and making the Pioneer League All-Star Team. He hit 7 home runs, scored 50 times and stole 12 bases. However, he committed 22 errors at third base, which was enough for the Dodgers to move him to the outfield.
“I’m where I am right now, playing right field, because the Dodgers believe that’s where I can best help them down the road,” Allen said during the Winter Instructional League in late 1997. “They seem to really like my arm, which is pretty strong.”
Nineteen-year-old Allen thought that he could reach the major leagues in four or five years. “I know it’s going to take a lot of hard work for me to pull that off, getting to the Dodgers that soon. I’m willing to pay the price, though, and I think I’ve proved that to most of the people in the organization,” he added.
Allen hit wherever the Dodgers sent him. He reached Double-A San Antonio in just his second pro season after batting nearly .300 at High-A San Bernardino in 1998. He spent all of 1999 and 2000 with the Double-A Missions as well. It wasn’t his hitting that kept him for two seasons in Double-A, but rather his fielding. He was once again tried at third base, and his defense had not improved from his initial foray at the position. Allen hit 14 home runs in 1999 with 82 RBIs and a .281 batting average. His 2000 season wasn’t as productive, as he batted .266 in 90 games. The following July 29, 2000, blurb from The Times (Shreveport, La.) seems to sum up a frustrating year.
“A tough year became worse for San Antonio third baseman Luke Allen. Allen, who reportedly saw a ghost while staying in the Missions’ hotel in Shreveport, suffered a season-ending injury when a bad hop grounder shot up and hit him in the eye, dislodging his eyeball from the eye socket.”
The eye injury is horrific and did end his season. The ghost story was part of an all-around bad trip to Shreveport earlier in July. On a Thursday night, he woke up at 5:30 in the morning and saw what he claimed was a ghost. Whatever it was, it had vanished by the time he turned on the light and woke up his roommate. The next night, he had to be rushed to the hospital for hypoglycemia. He was 1-for-3 with a caught stealing when he was well enough to return to the lineup.
As bad as the eye injury sounds, it didn’t affect his hitting — and it may have finally convinced the Dodgers that Allen wasn’t a third baseman. He batted .290 with 16 homers in Double-A Jacksonville in 2001, while playing pretty solidly in the outfield. He moved up to Triple-A Las Vegas in 2002 and was a force to be reckoned with. He hit .329 and got on base at a .395 percentage. He also hit 28 doubles and 12 home runs while driving in 78 runs. In one series against Sacramento, Allen was 7-for-12 with 2 home runs and 5 RBIs. He was rewarded with a promotion to the major leagues that September.
The 2002 Dodgers won 92 games but still finished in third place. The team had a veteran outfield with Brian Jordan, Dave Roberts, Shawn Green and Marquis Grissom all hitting well. Allen was limited to 6 games, mostly as a pinch-hitter or defensive replacement. His major-league debut came as a pinch-hitter on September 10, and he drew a walk against San Francisco’s Jason Schmidt. His first hit came against Colorado on September 14. After Green had gone 1-for-4 with 2 RBIs in a 16-3 win over the Rockies, Allen pinch-hit for the right fielder and doubled off reliever Kent Mercker. He later scored on a double by Mike Kinkade. Allen didn’t get a start until the final game of the season, against San Diego on September 29. He was 0-for-4 with 2 strikeouts. In those 6 games, Allen had the 1 hit in 7 at-bats for a .143 batting average, along with 2 runs scored, 2 walks and 3 strikeouts.
Los Angeles traded Allen to Colorado on January 27, 2003, in exchange for infielder/outfielder Jason Romano. He spent most of the season in Triple-A with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, and he batted .274 in 127 games. Pacific Coast League managers voted him as the best outfield arm in the league. He returned to the majors briefly in July, when the Rockies demoted veteran outfielder Greg Vaughn, but Allen only appeared in two games as a pinch-hitter. Hitless in two at-bats, he was sent back to the minors when the Rockies acquired Tony Womack in a trade with Arizona. Allen was waived at the end of the season and did not return to the majors again.
Allen appeared in a total of 8 major-league games, with a .111/.273/.222 slash line. He had the 1 hit — a double — and scored 2 runs. He also played a total of 16 innings in right field with the Dodgers and had 4 putouts for a 1.000 fielding percentage.
“I definitely wasn’t expecting to get waived so they totally caught me by surprise,” Allen said of the Rockies. “I felt I played pretty solid for Colorado Springs, but they didn’t call me on September callups, so that kind of put me down a little bit.”
Allen signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates for 2004 and played for the Nashville Sounds. He hit .259 with 17 homers and got some payback against his old Colorado Springs team when he drove in 2 runs as part of a 9-8 win over the Sky Sox on April 11, 2004. From there, he moved to the Angels, Red Sox, Padres and Dodgers, playing for their Triple-A affiliates. He also played some in Mexico and spent parts of 2007 and 2008 playing independent ball with the Somerset Patriots of the Atlantic League and the New Jersey Jackals of the Canadian-American Association. Allen’s most productive season came with the Salt Lake Stingers in 2005. He slashed .284/.357/.509, with 23 home runs and 92 runs driven in. Over all of those leagues, Allen had a .263 batting average, with 1,435 hits that included 138 home runs.
During the course of his career, Allen received instruction from notable teachers like Tommy Lasorda, Mickey Hatcher, Gene Richards and even Ted Williams, according to his profile at Diamond Sports Academy. He took what he had learned and passed it onto his students. “Luke has a special ability to take a player at any level, and be able to connect with them to help them improve their fundamentals of the game and reach their maximum potential,” read his profile.
For more information: Harwell & Son Funeral Home