Monday, July 13, 2015

Dave Parker Bat Card

It's summer, and once in a while, someone reminds me that baseball still exists. I no longer care for the ball or its teams, but the larger-than-life heroes it created at the turn of the last century, into the 1950s, then into the 80s and 90s for my time - that's different; you knew watching the never-ending games that someone, somewhere would find magic in what just happened, and would enter it in one of the sport's numerous history books.

70 games without making an error. 51 home runs in a single season. 40 homers and 40 stolen bases. Perfect games. A home run from each side of the plate. Batting for .400. The World Series, which barely qualifies as such because only one team isn't from the U.S., and the first Canadian team appeared in 1968. The Chicago Cubs never winning.

One such character was Dave Parker, the brash, outspoken man who seemed like an egomaniac and always talked about how good he looked, who played balls-out and ran into every catcher he ever played against, and whose turning baseball into a contact sport may have ended up causing his Parkinson's - the incurable disease that has him with a permanently shaking right hand, and causes the man who used to be a loud mouth to now speak slowly and more softly.

He now has a foundation that teaches kids how to play ball as well as about Parkinson's, and many other former Cincinnati Reds are part of it.

On the field, he won World Series titles with the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates and 1989 Oakland A's, a batting title in 1978, played in seven All-Star Games including being named the MVP of the 1979 edition after throwing out Jim Rice at third base and Brian Downing at home plate from the outfield, and contributing one RBI. Baseball's first million-dollar man is still waiting for his entry in the Hall Of Fame, partly because he admitted to cocaine use in 1985.

He attended Courter Tech High School, whee he was both a star right fielder and running back, and it's the running back in him that took over every time a catcher stood between Parker and the plate. Even if it meant breaking his cheekbone, like in a 1978 collision with New York Mets catcher John Stearns that probably also resulted in a concussion.

Speaking of which, on this Century Collection card (#69 in the set, numbered 94/100) from the 2010 Donruss Americana set by Panini, he is shown wearing his high school uniform although the piece of game-used bat is ''guaranteed'' to have been used in a ''professional'' game:
The picture is obviously a crop from a team photo.

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