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Parker coaching in 2002 Me with Parker 1997


He returned to the game in 1997 as the Angels first base coach. After one year in that capacity, he was hired by his former manager Tony LaRussa to be the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cards had led the league in strikeouts in 1997 and Parker helped them to make contact more frequently. One hitter who definitely must have listened to his advice that season was his former A's teammate Mark McGwire. McGwire had hit just 58 home runs in 1997 for the A's and Cardinals. But with Parker as his hitting coach in 1998, Big Mac slammed out 70 homers for a magical season that shattered Roger Maris' single season record of 61.

After the 1998 season, Parker walked away from coaching and returned to his Cincniatti home to be with his family and run a chain of Popeye's Chicken Family Restaurants he owns. In 2002 he returned to coaching as a special guest instructor for the Pittsburgh Pirates at spring training. He specifically worked with the team's young outfielders in fielding and throwing fundamentals and also worked with hitters. It was the first time he wore the Bucs uniform in 19 years.

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