Born: November 13, 1939
Hear this special audio segment highlighting Wes Parker’s career:
Born in Eavenston, Illinois, the switch-hitting first baseman struggled his first few years in the majors. Although he was always known for his abilities with the glove, Parker was never known for his ability with the bat as a young player. The successor to beloved Dodger great Gil Hodges, Parker’s lifetime average through 1968 was under .250. However Hall of Fame manager Walter Alston stuck with the young first baseman, and his patience with Parker paid off. In 1969 he batted .278 and by 1970 he batted a career-high .319, good for fifth in the league. He became a staple in the Dodger lineup and beloved by the Los Angeles faithful.
Over his career, Parker won 6 Gold Glove Awards, all coming every year between 1967 to 1972. Along with his career high .319 batting average in 1970, Parker hit for the cycle in May of that year and was awarded the Lou Gehrig Award, an award presented by the Phi Delta Theta fraternity to the player who best exemplifies Lou Gehrig’s character and integrity on and off the field. His only World Series victory came as a MLB sophomore in 1965 due to the years during his prime were largely dominated in the National League West by the Cincinnati Reds’ team known as the “Big Red Machine”. During his playing career he became very close friends with current Dodger skipper Joe Torre.
Parker would leave Major League Baseball after his sixth and final gold glove season in 1972, spending his entire Major League career with the Dodgers. He would enjoy a one-year stint in the Japanese league two years later in 1974 before finally calling it quits and briefly entering broadcasting. In 2001, Parker was named to the MLB All-time Gold Glove Team, the only non-Hall of Famer to be named to the list.