HOF ’09: Dave Parker

Seven time All Star, 1978 National League MVP, all the talent in the world, heir apparent to Roberto Clemente’s hallowed rightfield in Pittsburgh, what happened? Drugs happened for one thing, he was doing cocaine, injuries also slowed him down, but he also had an attitude that he didn’t have to work, due to his tremendous talent, but it all caught up with him. When I took over the Chicago Champions in the 2nd year of the Illowa APBA League, Davey P was on my team, he was the heart of a very good lineup, but the team needed pitching, so he was traded to the Thunderchickens along with Joe Rudi in exchange for John Candelaria & Don Baylor. It was a deal that helped both ballclubs.

In real life, Parker looked to be on the fast track to the Hall of Fame. In his first full season with the Pirates, he posted a .308 average, drove in 101, hitting 25 long balls, with 35 doubles & 10 triples. Dave also possessed the best throwing arm in the game (26 assists in 1977), maybe since Clemente. In ’77 he had a career best batting average of .338, which led the league, he also had more hits 215 than anybody in the league, and in ’78 he again was tops in batting average with a .334 mark. His .585 slugging average was also the best, he won a Gold Glove in 1977, 78, & 79, and he had 117 RBIs in his 1978 MVP season. He had a couple of more very good years with the Buccos in 1979 & 80, hitting .310 & .295 respectively. This big guy hit the ball so hard, that he actually tore the cover off a baseball he ripped into rightfield in 1979. The Pirates rewarded him, making him baseball’s first million dollar ballplayer.

Knee injuries limited him to only 67 & 73 games in 1981-82, he bounced back playing a full season with Pittsburgh in 1983, but he wasn’t quite the same. The injuries, weight gain, and cocaine had taken their tole on him. Still the Cincinnati Reds wanted him, signing him as a free agent. In 1985 at the age of 34, Parker had one of the best years of his career with the Reds, reaching his personal bests in homers 34 & RBIs 125, and a solid .312 batting average, finishing the season two hits shy of 200, He placed second in the MVP voting to Willie McGee. Then in 86 he had another monster year with Cincinnati, 31 HRs & 116 RBIs. His batting average dipped to .253 in 1987, although he did have 97 runs batted in, with 26 goners. He enjoyed some success in the American League, mostly as a designated hitter, driving in 97 with the A’s at the age of 38, and knocking in 92 with Milwaukee in 1990 at the age of 39.

With all of his accomplishments, there was only one person who could keep this man out of the Hall of Fame, and that man was Dave Parker, himself. Despite his drug abuses, his injuries, and his lack of dedication, he produced numbers that are comparable to others who’ve made it into the Hall. Parker notched a lifetime .290 batting average, 339 homers, 1,493 RBIs, and 1,272 runs scored, during his 19 year career. IMHO, Dave is only good enough for the Hall of the Very Good.

On a side note, since his retirement, Parker’s had both knees replaced. He owns several Popeyes Chicken Restaurants in the Cincinnati area.

  Hall of Fame

Hall of Very Good

  Why is he even on the Ballot?

 

While we wait for January 12 ballot results, The Baseball Zealot will be profiling those players who are on the 2009 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot.  Read the rest the of the profiles.

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