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Wes Parker, First Baseman MARCH 22, 1971

April 01, 2002
April 01, 2002

Table of Contents
April 1, 2002

Pro Basketball
Baseball

Wes Parker, First Baseman MARCH 22, 1971

He was one of the finest fielding first basemen ever, the winner
of six consecutive Gold Gloves from 1967 through 1972 and a key
member of the Koufax-Drysdale-led Los Angeles Dodgers team that
won the 1965 World Series, yet Wes Parker always had other
passions to pursue. On road trips he would haunt rare book stores
before heading to the ballpark, and, during home stands, he would
often tell friend and teammate Maury Wills what a shame it was
that they rarely saw a summer sunset outside Chavez Ravine. "I
always wished I could have been more satisfied with just playing
baseball," says Parker, who retired at age 32, after the 1972
season.

This is an article from the April 1, 2002 issue Original Layout

Today Parker frequents auction houses to maintain his collection
of vintage movie posters--he has 60, all framed and hanging in
his house in Pacific Palisades, Calif.--as well as first-edition
books, French advertising posters from the late 1800s and
handwritten letters by pre-World War II Hall of Famers such as
Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner. Parker's baseball career
could also be described as a collection of rarities. In 1965 and
'66 he and Wills, Jim Lefebvre and Junior Gilliam formed the
major leagues' only all-switch-hitting infield. Parker hit for
the cycle on May 7, 1970, and went on that season to drive in
111 runs while hitting just 10 homers. His .996 career fielding
percentage ties him with Steve Garvey, Don Mattingly and J.T.
Snow for the best ever.

"In the beginning it was so magical to travel to the ballparks I
had heard Vin Scully describe on the radio and to play with guys
I grew up admiring," says Parker. "I used to go to Dodgers games
with my dad. I'd watch Gil Hodges, and my dad would say, 'Just
think, son, maybe one day you'll be out here.'" After nine
seasons, though, Parker grew tired of traveling and tired of
playing for a team that hadn't won a pennant for six years and
walked away from the game. He spent the first 15 years after his
retirement working as a broadcaster and an actor--he had a role in
an episode of The Brady Bunch, and was a regular on the late-'70s
show All That Glitters. By the mid-'80s, he was hosting the
Dodger Talk program for KABC radio and immersing himself in his
collecting.

Parker is now writing his autobiography and doing volunteer work
at the Braille Institute in Los Angeles. He also coaches at
Dodgers fantasy camps and makes appearances through the team's
speaker's bureau. "I'm hugely grateful for what I learned and the
people I met through baseball," he says, "but you can find that
same fulfillment--teaching, entertaining and bringing joy to
someone--in other areas of life. You just have to plumb your
depths." --Hali Helfgott

COLOR PHOTO: WALTER IOOSS JR. (COVER)COLOR PHOTO: PETER READ MILLER
"I always wished I could have been more satisfied with just
playing," says Parker, who's now an eclectic collector.