Sports: Me ’n’ Richie

As a kid in Havertown, filmmaker Mike Tollin was in awe of controversial Phillies star Dick Allen. In an excerpt from a work-in-progress screenplay, Tollin details Allen’s place in the city — and how his own idol-worship transformed into a real relationship

A typical neighborhood blacktop in southern California. The midday sun bakes the asphalt. The two hoops, slightly bent, are netless. A blue ’59 Studebaker Lark approaches and stops; two men get out, one with a basketball.

Richie: I like your ride, hoss.
Michael: Yeah, I’ve had it for about 10 years … hope it’s the last car I ever buy.

The SOUND of the ball bouncing. Michael passes it to Richie, who stands at the three-point line in his cowboy boots. He drains shot after shot. The man once described by ex-Princeton basketball coach Butch van Breda Kolff as the greatest natural basketball talent he had ever seen hasn’t lost his touch. They continue without a word for a while, but finally Richie breaks down.

Richie: I thought this’d be the best place for me. But damn … this is hard.
Michael: I can’t even imagine what you’re going through, Wampum. But I know how much she loved you, and I know she’ll be with you forever.

Richie sobs inconsolably. Michael goes closer; they hug, all alone on the court.

Just a few years after losing his daughter, Dick has to bury his beloved mother Era, the matriarch of the family. (He’d been one of eight kids.) He moves back to the family house in Wampum, venturing out to California to spend time with his wife and going to Clearwater to help out in spring training. It’s an increasingly reclusive life. Twice, he is lured from his outpost in western Pennsylvania to make cameo appearances in movies produced by Michael.

Movie clips of Summer Catch, featuring Richie Allen as The Scout in the Black Hat; and Dreamer, with Richie Allen in a racetrack scene with Kurt Russell.

FADE-UP GRAPHIC: August 18, 2006

Richie and Michael sit in a spacious red leather booth, drinking margaritas and eating enchiladas.

So now after all these years, I find out my son Dickie thought I should have done more to help him get a job with the Rangers. Can you imagine, after all these years?
Well, you gotta call him. It doesn’t matter how many years it’s been. If that’s how he feels, you have to go see him and get him to talk about it. Get it out. No matter how painful it is to hear.
Yeah, you’re right. I’m gonna call him. Thanks, Stanford.

They raise their glasses and toast. Michael’s cell phone rings.

The color is drained from his face. He excuses himself from the table with a distracted wave and exits the restaurant onto a crowded North Hollywood street.

Michael: What do you mean, he’s dead? He’s not dead. … HE CAN’T BE DEAD!

Then silence. On the other end of the phone, Michael’s two siblings describe a horrible accident that has killed their father Sol.