The Pittsburgh Years
Dave Parker came up with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a right fielder on July 12, 1973. The Pirates were looking for a replacement in right field after the tragic death of Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente on December 31, 1972 and Parker was under a lot of pressure. In just 54 games in 1973 he hit .288 with 4 home runs. He became a regular late in 1974 as the Pirates made the playoffs. 1975 would be Parker's breakout season with Pittsburgh. The 6'5 left handed slugger hit .308 and pounded out 25 homers and 101 RBI while leading the National League in slugging percentage and finishing third in the Most Valuable Player race. However, Parker went hitless in the playoffs and the Pirates were swept by the Cincinnati Reds.
Parker hit .313 and finished 8th in the batting race in 1976 before hitting his prime in 1977. Parker won his first batting title at .338 in 1977 and added 21 home runs and 44 doubles. He led the league in hits and doubles while making his first All-Star team, winning his first Gold Glove (led league with 26 outfield assists) and finishing 3rd in the MVP vote.
In 1978, Parker ascended to the top of the baseball world. He hit .334 to win his second consecutive batting title. The 30 Home runs and 117 RBI that accompanied the high average earned Parker the 1978 MVP award and another Gold Glove.
In 1979 the Pirates took their turn at the top of the baseball world. Behind Parker and Willie Stargell, the "We Are Family" themed squad trailed the Baltimore Orioles 3 games to 1 in the World Series before capturing three consecutive games to win the title. Parker hit .310 with 25 HR, a career high 45 doubles, and 94 RBI in the regular season. Not only did he make the All-Star team, but he threw out 2 base runners (one at 3rd and 1 at home) in the NL's 7-6 win earning The Cobra All-Star game MVP honors. Parker hit .333 in the NLCS against Cincinnati and .345 with 3 doubles and 4 RBI in the World Series. Parker reaped the benefits in 1979 as the Pirates made him the first position player in baseball history to earn more than $1 million per season. The five year deal was worth $7.4 million.
Parker would make the All-Star team again in both 1980 and 1981 though his average dropped below .300 for the first time in a full season. He hit .295 in 1980 and .258 in 1981 which was a strike-shortened season. Injuries and off the field problems resulted in a .270 average and just 6 HR in 1982. Although he returned to play 144 games in 1983, he hit just 12 HR and batted .279. After the season, the Pirates chose not to re-sign their premier slugger.
copyright © 2002 D. Nathan Baliva. All rights reserved.