Alumnus Wes Parker Wins Gold Glove
Former CMS Stags first baseman Wes Parker ’62, who signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers as an amateur free agent in 1963, has been selected as the greatest defensive first baseman since the inception of the Gold Glove Award in 1957, according to fan balloting sponsored by Rawlings that began in Spring Training.
With 53 percent of the vote, Parker beat out, in order, Don Mattingly, Keith Hernandez, J.T. Snow, Vic Power and Bill White for the honor.
“This award wraps up my career in the most beautiful way possible,” announced Parker, who will be recognized for the honor at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday, Aug. 29. “I took great pride in my fielding. The first-base position, I think, has been slighted over the years by players thinking they only have to catch throws and dig balls from the dirt to play it well. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Parker says that dedicated first basemen “charge bunts, range to their left and right for grounders, dive for balls, run all over the place for pop-ups and use their arms aggressively.
“They take risks, go after everything, and defend their ground with pride and determination,” he says. “And in doing all this they expand the position from one of passivity and conservatism to one of action, excitement, daring, beauty and grace.
“I am proud to bring this award home to Los Angeles,” Parker said, “and prouder still to call it my own personal Hall of Fame.”
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Rawlings Gold Glove Award, fans began voting last February on www.RawlingsGoldGlove.com, at thousands of participating sporting goods retailer locations, and by mobile device and via the U.S. Postal Service, for players who were nominated at each position since the inception of the award. Final nominees were determined by a panel of baseball officials, managers, broadcasters, historians and writers.
Parker won six straight Gold Gloves in Los Angeles from 1967-72 and played his entire career with the Dodgers from 1964-72. He finished fifth in the 1970 NL MVP vote after hitting .319 with 47 doubles and 111 RBI, and also helped the Dodgers win the 1965 World Series over the Twins, hitting .304 with a homer and two RBI while playing error-free baseball in the seven-game series.
The Southern California native originally signed with the Dodgers as an amateur free agent before the 1963 season, after playing his collegiate baseball at then-Claremont Men’s College.
As a varsity athlete, “Wes had tremendous range both to his left and right,” recalls Bill Arce, former baseball coach and founding director of the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps athletics program. “He got to more baseballs than other first-basemen and of course the more balls you get to, the greater the chance for errors. He scooped errant throws out of the dirt even when he had to stretch wide to his right or left.”
In 1968, Parker made just one error at first base, which was controversial, as it came on an Astroturf bounce at the Houston Astrodome. The switch-hitter retired after the 1972 season with a Major League record .996 fielding percentage at first, making just 45 errors in 10,380 chances.
Parker is now part of the Dodgers’ Speakers Bureau, where he attends community events and works closely with the Dodgers Dream Foundation. He also volunteers regularly at the Braille Institute in Los Angeles.