Ace Parker

Clarence McKay "Ace" Parker (May 17, 1912 – November 6, 2013) was an American football and baseball player and coach. He played professional football as a quarterback in the National Football League (NFL) for the Brooklyn Dodgers (1937–1941) and Boston Yanks (1945) and in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) for the New York Yankees. He was an All-American halfback at Duke University in 1936. Parker also played Major League Baseball during 1936 and 1937 with the Philadelphia Athletics.[1] He served as the head baseball coach at Duke from 1953 to 1966. Parker was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1955 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972.

Ace Parker
Ace Parker
Parker pictured in the Chanticleer 1936, Duke yearbook
Born:May 17, 1912
Portsmouth, Virginia
Died:November 6, 2013 (aged 101)
Portsmouth, Virginia
Career information
Position(s)Quarterback / Halfback
Height6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight178 lb (81 kg)
High schoolWoodrow Wilson (VA)
NFL draft1937 / Round: 2 / Pick: 13
Career history
As player
19371941Brooklyn Dodgers
1945Boston Yanks
1946New York Yankees
Career highlights and awards
Career stats
Military career
AllegianceUnited States United States
Service/branchUnited States Navy seal U.S. Navy
Years of service1942–1945
RankUS-O1 insignia.svg Ensign
Battles/warsWorld War II
Ace Parker
Born: May 17, 1912
Portsmouth, Virginia
Died: November 6, 2013 (aged 101)
Portsmouth, Virginia
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 24, 1937, for the Philadelphia Athletics
Last MLB appearance
September 4, 1938, for the Philadelphia Athletics
MLB statistics
Batting average.179
Home runs2
Runs batted in25

Early years

Parker was the son of Ernest and Mabel Parker and grew up near Norfolk, Virginia. He attended Woodrow Wilson High School in Portsmouth, graduating with the class of 1933 and starring in five sports. He enrolled at Duke University as a freshman in 1933.[2]

Duke career

At Duke, Parker competed in three sports: football, basketball and baseball. From 1934–1936, he starred at running back, doing most of the running and passing for Duke. He was second team All-American in 1935 and consensus All-American first team in 1936. He placed sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1936. Parker was a great open-field runner and one of the best punters in college football at the time. His 105-yard kickoff return against North Carolina is still a Duke school record. Parker also stood out as a baseball player at Duke, playing in 1935–1936.

In his senior season at Duke, he served as team captain for the Duke Blue Devils who went 9–1, captured the league title with a 7–0 record, and finished the season ranked 11th in the Associated Press national poll.[2]

He was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1955. He was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1963, the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 1972, and was an inaugural member of the Duke University Sports Hall of Fame, inducted in 1975.

Early pro career

Parker was drafted by the Brooklyn Dodgers as the third pick of the second round in the 1937 NFL draft. Sammy Baugh was the only passer drafted ahead of Parker. Parker, who played for the Philadelphia Athletics of Major League Baseball beginning in 1937, originally had no intention of playing in the NFL. Baseball was the glamour pro sport at the time and the NFL had a rough, vulgar reputation. But perhaps because of his .117 batting average that year, he asked for and received permission from the A's to play football. Parker thus became a true two-sport phenomenon, playing both Major League Baseball and NFL football in both 1937 and 1938. Parker, playing various infield positions, batted .179 over two seasons with the A's, scoring 20 runs with 25 RBI over 94 games. Parker was the first of only seven Major League Baseball players to hit a home run as a pinch-hitter in their first at bat.[3]

NFL stardom

When Parker joined the Dodgers in 1937, Brooklyn had been a perennial NFL cellar-dweller in the East Conference since 1930. With his running, passing, and punting ability, he brought them instant credibility. He led the team in passing in 1937 and every year he played. In 1938, he led Brooklyn to a 0.500 record and led the NFL in passing yards with 865. When legendary coach Jock Sutherland joined the Dodgers in 1940, Parker's career took off. In 1940, he threw for 817 yards and 10 touchdowns, rushed for 306 yards, caught 3 passes, including 2 for touchdowns, and led the league in points after touchdowns. The Dodgers finished only one game out of first, with an 8–3 record, and Parker was named the NFL MVP. In 1941, Parker continued to shine, but the Dodgers again finished second to the New York Giants, despite beating their New York rivals twice during the season. Parker's NFL career went on hold in 1942, as he, like many NFL players, left football to enlist in the Armed Services. After serving for over two years, Parker returned to the NFL, this time with the short-lived Boston Yanks, but at age 33, he took on a minor role.

He rejoined the former owner of the Dodgers, Dan Topping, in 1946 as part of the New York Yankees of the new All-America Football Conference (AAFC). Coached by former Washington Redskins coach Ray Flaherty and led by Parker, the Yankees won the AAFC East, giving Parker his only division title in pro football. The Yankees met the powerful Cleveland Browns in the championship game. The Yankees played well, but eventually succumbed to the Browns. Parker was 8 of 18 passing, for only 81 yards and an interception. Parker retired after the game, completing a fine career at age 34. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 1972.

Later years

After his playing days, Parker became the head baseball coach (1953–1966) and assistant football coach (1947–1965) at Duke University. He was manager of the Durham Bulls from 1949 to 1952, serving as player-manager for the first three seasons and finishing with a record of 303–266 (.533). He was Piedmont League manager of the year in 1949 and 1951. He was also a founding member of the Elizabeth Manor Golf and Country Club in Portsmouth, Virginia.

On August 13, 2008, Parker was part of the inaugural class inducted into the Hampton Roads Sports Hall of Fame, honoring athletes, coaches and administrators who made contributions to sports in Southeastern Virginia.

At the time of his death, Parker was the oldest living member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the oldest living former professional football player and the last living person to play on the same major league baseball field as Baseball Hall of Fame member Rogers Hornsby. On May 7, 1937, Parker appeared for the Philadelphia Athletics while Hornsby played one of his last games for the St. Louis Browns.[4] Before his death, Parker and Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr were the last men to play on the same field as baseball immortal Lou Gehrig.[5]

Parker died the morning of November 6, 2013 at the age of 101. He is the first and so far only member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame to have lived past their hundredth birthday.[6]

See also


  1. ^ Bowling, Lewis (November 2013). "The Ace of them all: Duke legend Ace Parker passes away at age 101; was the oldest living Pro Football Hall of Famer". GoDuke The Magazine. Winston-Salem, North Carolina: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network. 5 (3): 14–16.
  2. ^ a b "Ace Parker Celebrates 100th Birthday Today – Duke University Blue Devils | Official Athletics Site". Retrieved 2012-08-12.
  3. ^ "Pinch Hitting Records". Retrieved April 4, 2012.
  4. ^ "May 7, 1937 Philadelphia Athletics at St. Louis Browns Box Score and Play by Play". May 7, 1937. Retrieved 2012-08-12.
  5. ^ "April 26, 1938 New York Yankees at Philadelphia Athletics Play by Play and Box Score". April 26, 1938. Retrieved 2012-08-12.
  6. ^ "Ace Parker dead at 101 - Pro Football Hall of Fame Official Site". Retrieved November 9, 2018.

External links

1934 All-Southern Conference football team

The 1934 All-Southern Conference football team consists of American football players chosen by the Associated Press (AP) and United Press (UP) for the All-Southern Conference football team for the 1934 college football season.

1935 All-Southern Conference football team

The 1935 All-Southern Conference football team consists of American football players chosen by the Associated Press (AP) and United Press (UP) for the All-Southern Conference football team for the 1935 college football season.

1936 All-Southern Conference football team

The 1936 All-Southern Conference football team consists of American football players chosen by the Associated Press (AP) and United Press (UP) for the All-Southern Conference football team for the 1936 college football season.

1936 College Football All-America Team

The 1936 College Football All-America team is composed of college football players who were selected as All-Americans by various organizations and writers that chose College Football All-America Teams in 1936. The nine selectors recognized by the NCAA as "official" for the 1936 season are (1) Collier's Weekly, as selected by Grantland Rice, (2) the Associated Press (AP), (3) the United Press (UP), (4) the All-America Board (AAB), (5) the International News Service (INS), (6) Liberty magazine, (7) the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA), (8) the North American Newspaper Alliance (NANA), and (9) the Sporting News (SN).

1936 Duke Blue Devils football team

The 1936 Duke Blue Devils football team was an American football team that represented Duke University as a member of the Southern Conference during the 1936 college football season. In its sixth season under head coach Wallace Wade, the team compiled a 9–1 record (7–0 against conference opponents), won the conference championship, and outscored opponents by a total of 208 to 28. Ace Parker was the team captain. The team played its home games at Duke Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.

Both Clyde Berryman and James Howell named Duke as a retroactive national champion for 1936.

1937 NFL Draft

The 1937 National Football League Draft was the second draft held by the National Football League (NFL). The draft took place December 12, 1936, at the Hotel Lincoln in New York City. The draft consisted of 10 rounds, with 100 player selections, two of which would later become members of the Professional Football Hall of Fame. Notable for this draft were the league's draft selections for a planned expansion team, the Cleveland Rams, who were admitted into the league prior to the 1937 season.

1938 All-Pro Team

The 1938 All-Pro Team consisted of American football players chosen by various selectors for the All-Pro team of the National Football League (NFL) for the 1938 NFL season. Teams were selected by, among others, the National Professional Football Writers Association (PFW), the United Press (UP), the International News Service (INS), Collyer's Eye (CE), and the New York Daily News (NYDN).Players displayed in bold were consensus first-team selections. Four players were selected for the first team by all five selectors: New York Giants halfback Ed Danowski; Green Bay Packers fullback Clarke Hinkle; New York Giants tackle Ed Widseth; and Chicago Bears guard Dan Fortmann. Another two were selected for the first team by four selectors: Brooklyn Dodgers quarterback Ace Parker (PFW, UP, INS, NYDN); Pittsburgh Pirates halfback Byron White (PFW, UP, INS, CE); and Green Bay Packers end Don Hutson (PFW, UP, INS, NYDN). Five players were selected for the first team by three selectors: Chicago Cardinals end Gaynell Tinsley (PFW, INS, CE); Philadelphia Eagles end Bill Hewitt (UP, CE, NYDN); Chicago Bears tackle Joe Stydahar (UP, INS, NYDN); Green Bay Packers guard Russ Letlow (PFW, INS, CE); and New York Giants center Mel Hein (UP, INS, NYDN).

1938 NFL season

The 1938 NFL season was the 19th regular season of the National Football League. The season ended when the New York Giants defeated the Green Bay Packers in the NFL Championship Game.

1940 All-Pro Team

The 1940 All-Pro Team consisted of American football players chosen by various selectors for the All-Pro team of the National Football League (NFL) for the 1940 NFL season. Teams were selected by, among others, the so-called "official" All-Pro team selected by 92 sports writers who were members of the Pro Football Writers Association of American (PFW), the sports writers of the Associated Press (AP), the United Press (UP), the International News Service (INS), Collyer's Eye (CE), the New York Daily News (NYDN), and the Chicago Herald American.Players displayed in bold were consensus first-team selections. Three players were selected for the first team by all seven selectors: Brooklyn Dodgers quarterback Ace Parker; Brooklyn Dodgers tackle Bruiser Kinard; and Chicago Bears guard Dan Fortmann. Four others were designated for the first team by six selectors: Cleveland Rams fullback Johnny Drake; Green Bay Packers end Don Hutson; Brooklyn Dodgers end Perry Schwartz; and New York Giants center Mel Hein. Another four players were selected by five of seven selectors: Detroit Lions halfback Byron White; Washington Redskins halfback Sammy Baugh; Chicago Bears tackle Joe Stydahar; and New York Giants center Mel Hein.

1940 NFL season

The 1940 NFL season was the 21st regular season of the National Football League. The season ended when the Chicago Bears defeated the Washington Redskins in the NFL Championship Game, 73–0. This game still stands as the most one-sided victory in NFL history. The Pittsburgh Pirates were renamed the Pittsburgh Steelers before the 1940 season.

1940 National Football League All-Star Game (December)

The 1940 National Football League All-star Game (December) was the professional football league's third all-star game. The game pitted the Chicago Bears, the league's champion for the 1940 season, against a team of all-stars. The game was played on Sunday, December 29, 1940, at Gilmore Stadium in Los Angeles, California before an overflow crowd of 21,000, with members of the Stanford and Nebraska football teams also in attendance; the two were scheduled to play in the Rose Bowl, with Nebraska using the All-Star Game to research the Bears' T formation, which was being used by Stanford head coach and former Bears assistant Clark Shaughnessy. The Bears defeated the All-Stars by a score of 28–14.The Bears were an 8–5 favorite over the All-Stars after crushing the Washington Redskins 73–0 in the championship game a few weeks prior. Luke Johnsos coached the Bears in place of George Halas, who was hospitalized following an appendectomy. The All-Stars were coached by Ray Flaherty of the Washington Redskins. John Olds was the referee for the game.Quarterback Ace Parker of the Brooklyn Dodgers was voted into the game, but declined participation due to ankle and shoulder injuries he suffered during the season. His decision sparked a clash with NFL President Carl Storck, who warned him of potential expulsion from the league should he not play until Dodgers owner Dan Topping successfully pulled him out without consequence. Rather than the All-Star Game, Parker decided to play two charity games in Virginia over the following weeks.

1940 Philadelphia Eagles season

The 1940 Philadelphia Eagles season was their eighth in the National Football League. The team failed to improve on their previous output of 1–9–1, losing ten games. The team failed to qualify for the playoffs for the eighth consecutive season.

The Eagles 298 rushing yards in 1940 are the fewest in the history of the NFL. The team gained only 0.94 yards per carry.

Brooklyn Dodgers (NFL)

The Brooklyn Dodgers were an American football team that played in the National Football League from 1930 to 1943, and in 1944 as the Brooklyn Tigers. The team played its home games at Ebbets Field of the baseball National League's team, the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1945, because of financial difficulties and the increasing scarcity of major league-level players because of the war-time defense requirements at the height of World War II, the team was merged with the Boston Yanks and were known as the Yanks for that season.

This old NFL franchise was not related to the earlier (second incarnation) American Football League II with a franchise that played as the Brooklyn Tigers for the first half of the 1936 season before moving to Rochester, New York and playing as the Rochester Tigers. Another NFL team that played in the Brooklyn borough was the Brooklyn Lions (which became the Brooklyn Horsemen after merging with a team from an earlier first incarnation AFL of the same name) in 1926.

In 1946, co-owner and partner Dan Topping (1912–1974) pulled the Tigers team out of the old NFL and placed it in the newly established rival professional league – the All-America Football Conference, which shortly lasted until 1949 until several stronger teams from the AAFC merged with and entered a reorganized NFL in 1950. It lasted until 1970 with the NFL-AFL (third) merger following the establishment of the first "Super Bowl" inter-league national championship game three years before with the old NFL champions playing the victors of the latest rival fourth incarnation of the American Football League IV, formed in 1960 (now the American Football Conference (AFC).

Duke Blue Devils baseball

The Duke Blue Devils baseball team is the varsity intercollegiate baseball program of Duke University, based in Durham, North Carolina, United States. The team has been a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference since the conference's founding in the 1954 season. The program's home venue is the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, which opened in 1995. Chris Pollard has been the head coach of the team since the 2013 season. As of the end of the 2013 season, the Blue Devils have appeared in three College World Series in three NCAA Tournaments. They have won three ACC Championships. As of the start of the 2013 Major League Baseball season, 34 former Blue Devils players have played in Major League Baseball.

Jerry Rushing

Jerry Elijah Rushing (September 1, 1937 - July 23, 2017) was an American best known for his years as a bootlegger or "moonrunner" (moonshine runner, "running" being a form of smuggling).

Rushing was born into a family business making illegal whiskey. As a young man he became a delivery driver, a job requiring late-night high-speed driving, often without headlights; for this he used a modified 1958 Chrysler 300D capable of 140 mph (225 km/h) speeds, easily more than most police vehicles, which he nicknamed Traveller, after Robert E. Lee's favorite horse Traveller. The car was eventually abandoned when it ran out of fuel during a chase, was sold from a police impound into the private collector's market, and has since been restored by Lawrence Wolfel. Rushing eventually turned to a career in early stock car racing. Among the drivers he raced were Junior Johnson, himself a former moonrunner, and Wendell Scott.

In the early 1970s, while doing research for an upcoming movie, producer Gy Waldron obtained an oral history from Rushing. Waldron would later use these interviews, along with his own experiences growing up in Kentucky, as material for the 1975 B-movie Moonrunners, which would go on to be reworked as the basis for the TV series The Dukes of Hazzard, production of which began in late 1978 (first broadcast in January 1979). Rushing was not credited for the biographical details he claims were recreated in both works, and sued for royalties, receiving an undisclosed settlement.

Rushing claims thirteen characters from the film or series were modeled on himself or people he knew, including:

He was the inspiration for Bo Duke

His Uncle Worley was the inspiration for Uncle Jesse

His car Traveler was the inspiration for the General Lee (indeed, a car named Traveler is seen in Moonrunners, and the name for the General Lee in pre-production was also Traveler)Rushing performed stunt work and appeared uncredited as Jake Rainey's bodyguard in Moonrunners. He also had a guest role in a very early episode of the TV Dukes series, as crooked used car salesman Ace Parker in the episode "Repo Men". Rushing had understood the performance to be the start of a recurring role, return in part for his supplying creative material from his experiences, but it was the only time the character was ever seen or mentioned. This appearance led to a career as a minor character actor, mainly playing rednecks, sheriffs, and truckers. With the release of the Dukes of Hazzard movie, Rushing had stepped up marketing for a self-produced documentary called Traveler.

Rushing owned and operated a wild boar hunting preserve near Taylorsville, North Carolina named Chestnut Hunting Lodge. He retired during the summer of 2013 and the lodge closed. He died at his home on July 23, 2017.

Joe F. Carr Trophy

The Joe F. Carr Trophy was the first award given in the National Football League (NFL) to recognize a most valuable player for each season. It was first awarded in 1938, known then as the Gruen Trophy, and renamed in 1939 in honor of NFL commissioner Joseph Carr. The Gruen Trophy, sponsored by Gruen Watch Co., was first awarded in 1937 to Dutch Clark of the Detroit Lions. However, both contemporary and modern sources consider the 1938 award the first retroactive Joe F. Carr Trophy, and thus the first NFL MVP award. Players were chosen by a panel of sportswriters who distributed first and second place votes. It was awarded until the 1946 season, and it remains the only MVP award the NFL has officially sanctioned.

Johnny Kovatch

John Paul "Johnny" Kovatch (June 6, 1912 – October 11, 2013) was a professional American football player who played six games as an end for the Cleveland Rams of the National Football League during their 1938 season. His tenure with the Rams ended in October 1938, when he fractured his backbone and was injured for the remainder of the season.Kovatch was born in South Bend, Indiana and took up football at Central High School. Prior to his professional career he was an end on the Northwestern Wildcats football team from 1935 through 1937. After his professional career he took up football coaching at Saginaw High School in Michigan. He then served as grid coach at Illinois Wesleyan University, before becoming head football and basketball coach in January 1942, in addition to positions that he already held as athletic director and track coach. In April 1942, however, he joined Indiana University Bloomington as an assistant coach. In April 1944 he was called to serve in the United States Army during World War II.Kovatch stayed at Indiana until March 1947, when he joined the coaching staff of his alma mater, Northwestern University. He remained there until February 1955 and was hired as an end coach at the University of Nebraska the following month. Less than a year later, in January 1956, he joined the staff at the University of Kansas. Until his death in October 2013, he was the second-oldest living former NFL player, behind Ace Parker.

Kent Ryan

Orson Kent Ryan (February 2, 1915 – February 3, 2006) was a professional American football player who played defensive back for three seasons (1938, 1939, and 1940) for the Detroit Lions in the National Football League. He also served in the Army and was called in to serve in the South Pacific in 1941 for 5 years.

He, along with Don Hutson and Ace Parker, led the league in interceptions with 6 for the 1940 season, the first in which the NFL kept records.

List of athletes who played in Major League Baseball and the National Football League

Fewer than 70 athletes are known to have played in both Major League Baseball (MLB) and the National Football League (NFL). This includes two Heisman Trophy winners (Vic Janowicz and Bo Jackson) and seven members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame (Red Badgro, Paddy Driscoll, George Halas, Ernie Nevers, Ace Parker, Jim Thorpe, and Deion Sanders). However, none of the players on the list has been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In 1920, the inaugural season of the NFL, 11 veterans of MLB (including George Halas and Jim Thorpe) became the first athletes to accomplish the feat. Since 1970, only seven athletes have done so, including Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders. Jackson was the first athlete to be selected as an All-Star in both MLB and the NFL. Sanders holds the longevity record, having appeared in 641 MLB games and 189 NFL games.

Ace Parker—awards and honors

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