Dave "Cobra" Parker. Seven All-Star teams. Three Gold Gloves. Three Silver Sluggers. Five t0p-5 MVP seasons. One MVP award. If it weren't for the dump he took in the middle of his career he'd be in the Hall of Fame.
Dave Parker played in the Pittsburgh Pirates' minor league system from 1970-1973 and made his major league debut on July 12, 1973. He was a part-time player in 1973 and 1974 and batted in the .280s both years.
The 1975 season was Dave's breakout year. He led the NL in slugging percentage (.541) and batted .308 with 25 HR and 101 RBI. Parker was third in MVP voting behind Joe Morgan and Greg Luzinski. Dave had a better batting average (.313) in 1976 but he had a dropoff in power (13 HR).
Parker made his first All Star team in 1977. He led the NL in batting average (.338), hits (215), and doubles (44). He won his first Gold Glove and was third in MVP voting (behind George Foster and Greg Luzinski).
Interestingly, Parker didn't make the NL All Star team in 1978, but he was the NL MVP and won his second Gold Glove. He led the NL again in batting average (.334), hit 30 HR, and had 114 RBI. He also led the league in slugging percentage (.585).
After those two great seasons, Parker was bound to have a bit of a dropoff in 1979. It didn't matter as he helped lead the Pirates to the World Championship. Dave was an All Star again and showed off his great throwing arm by throwing out two runners from right field. Dave was named the All Star Game MVP. Parker batted .310 with 25 homers and 94 RBI and won his third (and final) Gold Glove award. Here is a 1985 Baseball Digest "Game I'll Never Forget" article that talks about a playoff game in 1979.
- Parker's numbers really started to suffer in 1980, in large part due to the distractions and controversy surrounding the huge contract he signed. Dave batted .295 with 17 HR and 79 RBI. During this time Dave had weight, injury, and cocaine problems. The 1981 and 1982 seasons were the worst seasons for Parker. In 1981 he played in only 67 games and batted .258 with nine HR. In 1982 he played in 73 games and batted .279 with six HR and 29 RBI. If I remember right, he was the first star to wear an earring on the diamond. Now it's commonplace, but it was a big deal back then.
- In 1983 Dave had an uptick in his numbers. He played in 144 games, batted .279, and hit 12 homers and had 69 RBI. Dave testified against a dealer in the Pittsburgh drug trials and was fined by Major League Baseball for his admitted drug use. After the season he became a free agent and signed with the Cincinnati Reds.
- Dave had a nice year in 1984 (.285, 16 HR, 94 RBI), but he had a huge comeback year in 1985. Parker was second to Willie McGee in NL MVP voting, won the Silver Slugger award, and was an NL All Star. He led the NL in doubles (42) and RBI (125) and batted .312 with 34 home runs. Here is a November 1985 Baseball Digest article.
- Parker played in all 162 games in 1986 and was an NL All Star and Silver Slugger Award winner again. He finished 5th in MVP voting as he batted .273 with 31 HR and 116 RBI. In 1987 Parker .253 with 26 HR and 97 RBI. After the season he was traded to the Oakland A's for Jose Rijo and Tim Birtsas.
- Dave's power number were down in 1988. He hit 12 homers, had 55 RBI, and batted .257 as the A's designated hitter. Parker did better for the 1989 World Champion A's (.264, 22 HR, 97 RBI). After the 1989 season Dave left as a free agent and signed with the Milwaukee Brewers. In 1990 Dave won the Silver Slugger award as a DH and made his last All Star team in his only season with the Brewers. He batted .298 with 21 homers and 92 RBI.
- Before the 1991 season Parker was traded to the California Angels. He spent most of the 1991 seaosn with the Angels and hit 11 homers and batted .232 in 119 games. From Sports Illustrated: Dave Winfield, Angel outfielder, on hitting in front of newly acquired Dave Parker in the batting order: "You're going to hear pitchers saying, 'Nobody told me there'd be Daves like this.' "
- Dave was released on September 7 and the Toronto Blue Jays picked him up for the stretch run. Parker played 13 games for the Blue Jays and then retired after the season.
- After his playing career Parker was a first base coach for the Anaheim Angels and a hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals. He owns several Popeye's franchises. Dave has had both of his knees replaced.
- Dave loved to face Rick Reuschel (.333 with 5 HR in 105 AB) and Bob Forsch (.347 in 95 AB). He hated to face Scott Sanderson (.214 in 70 AB) and Don Sutton (.213 in 75 AB).
- Here is an interview Dave did before a celebrity softball game in 2007: