In the late 70’s, Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Dave Parker, with a sweet swing and athleticism both offensively and defensively, seemed to have all the tools for future Hall of Fame vestiture. In the years between 1975 and 1979, he hit .308, .313, .338 and .334 respectively while clubbing 114 homers. And of course, he clobbered Phillies pitching just as he struck fear in nearly every other pitching staff he faced.
He was a crucial cog with that great 1979 Pirates team known as “the Family” that won the National League East Division title, defeated the Cincinnati Reds (minus Pete Rose who went Free Agent and signed a 5 year deal with the Phillies that year) and went on to defeat the Baltimore Orioles in 7 games in the World Series after coming back from being down 3 games to 1.
Parker and Willie “Pops” Stargell supplied the main clout on those Pirate teams of the late 70s, particularly in the 1979 World Series when Parker went 10-29, including 3 doubles, 2 homers and 4 RBIs and “Pops” went 12-30 including 4 doubles, 3 homers and 7 RBIs along with 4 other Pirates who had 9 or more hits in that series.
In the 1980s, Parker had a number of injuries which cut down his production although he had his best all-round year in 1985 hitting 34 homers, driving in 125 runs for the Cincinnati Reds.
But then his production dwindled with age and additional injuries although he was a cog in those Oakland As teams of 1988 and 1989 which went to the World Series in both years, winning the series in 1989 in 4 games over the San Francisco Giants.
Parker’s lifetime stats showed 2,712 hits, 339 homers, 1,493 RBIs and a .290 batting average.
There was a time during the late 1970s when Dave Parker was arguably the best player in baseball, and he seemed destined to one day be immortalized in the hallowed halls of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
An intimidating 6-foot-6, 235-pound right fielder with a sweet swing and powerful arm, there was nothing Parker couldn’t do on the baseball diamond during his prime. He epitomized the term “five-tool player.” In a 1978 poll of general managers, he was selected as the best player in the game.
However, after 11 years on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s Hall of Fame ballot, the man known as “The Cobra” is still waiting for the writers to punch his ticket to Cooperstown. His highest vote total percentage was 24.5 percent in 1998, and Parker garnered 14.4 percent of the total on the most recent ballot.
A candidate must get 75 percent of the vote to gain election. Results of the 2007 BBWAA Hall of Fame election will be announced Jan. 9, and the induction ceremony will take place on July 29 in Cooperstown.
“Parker gave 100 percent effort in every inning of every game that he played,” said Chuck Tanner, who was Pittsburgh’s manager from 1977-85. “He was one of the greatest I ever managed and one of the greatest who ever played, in my opinion. He has Hall of Fame credentials.”
An assortment of injuries significantly reduced Parker’s production from 1980-83. During that four-year stretch, Parker batted .280 with an average of just 11 home runs and 56 RBIs per season.
“I wasn’t quite myself as a player,” said Parker. “There were times when I shouldn’t have been out there at all. But [former Pirates teammate Willie] Stargell impressed upon me to be a star and a leader. He said, ‘Seventy-five or 80 percent of you is better than 100 percent of someone else.’ I made those sacrifices because that’s what I was taught. Willie emphasized that to me as a young player and I believed it.
“There were a couple of years where my numbers probably weren’t what they should have been,” Parker added. “But for the majority of those 10 years, from 1975 to ‘80, I was probably the best player in the game.”
Despite being embroiled in the highly publicized drug trial that rocked the baseball world, Parker turned his career back around after signing a free-agent contract with his hometown Cincinnati Reds in 1984. Parker led the NL in RBIs and total bases in 1985 and finished as the runner-up to St. Louis’ Willie McGee in the NL MVP race that season.
Parker later went on to serve as an important cog on the Oakland A’s 1988 American League championship and 1989 World Series championship teams and appeared in the 1990 All-Star Game as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers.
“I won two batting titles, should have won two MVPs, was in three World Series, was the MVP of the All-Star Game, DH of the Year twice, and won the RBI crown,” Parker said. “I did everything that you could possibly do in baseball and I’m not in the Hall?
“I should be in the Hall of Fame,” he said. “Ain’t no doubt about it.”
Good luck to Dave Parker, may the 12th year be the charm for the Hall of Fame.