Glove Is a Many Splendored Thing

 

The Glove Club: Wes Parker

Wes Parker was a good hitter who was one of the best defensive first basemen in Dodgers history.

Wes Parker won six consecutive Gold Gloves from 1967-1972. His .9957 career fielding average is twelfth highest among major league first basemen.

Parker was signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1963 and was playing in L.A. a year later, batting .257 as a rookie in 1964. Starting in 1965, he was the Dodgers’ everyday first baseman for the next eight seasons.

Parker won the Gold Glove for his play at first base every season from 1967 through 1972. In 1968, he committed only one error in 1,009 chances at first base for a .999 fielding percentage. Parker also played in the outfield as needed.

A switch-hitter, Parker was at first base when the Dodgers fielded an all-switch-hitting infield in 1965. The other members of that switch-hitting infield (the only one in major league history) were Jim Lefebvre at second, Maury Wills at shortstop and Jim Gilliam at third.

Parker’s best season as a hitter came in 1970, when he batted .319 with 10 home runs and 111 RBIs. That season he led the National League in doubles with 47 and in games played with 161. He also posted career highs in on-base percentage (.392) and slugging average (.458). His highest home run output came in 1969, when he hit 13 dingers.

Parker was released by the Dodgers after the 1973 season, and spent one season in Japan before retiring as a player. In nine major league seasons, all with the Dodgers, Parker posted a career batting average of .267 with 1,110 hits.

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The Switch Is On

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

(May 31, 1965) For the first time in major league history, an all-switch-hitting infield started a big league game.

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Wes Parker

In the nightcap of a twin bill, the Los Angeles Dodgers lost to the visiting Cincinnati Reds, 6-1. The Dodgers’ starting infield was made up entirely of switch-hitters, with Wes Parker at first base, Jim Lefebvre at second, Maury Wills at shortstop and Jim Gilliam at third.

The Dodgers infield hit for a combined .154 for the game, with two hits in 13 official at-bats. Gilliam doubled in the first inning and Wills singled in the ninth. Parker drove in the Dodgers’ only run with a sacrifice fly off Reds’ starter Joey Jay (3-1) in the ninth inning, scoring catcher Jeff Torborg.

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Jim Lefebvre

Jay pitched the complete game, giving up only three hits while striking out eight and walking no Dodgers.

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Maury Wills

Hitting stars for the Reds were catcher Jimmie Coker (a two-run double off Claude Osteen in the first inning), third baseman Deron Johnson (a pair of RBIs) and Frank Robinson, who hit a solo home run (his eighth of the season) off Osteen (3-6) in the fourth.

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Jim Gilliam

The 1965 season would be Robinson’s last in a Cincinnati uniform, despite finishing the year with a .296 batting average, 33 home runs and 113 RBIs. In 1966, he moved on to the Baltimore Orioles … and to the American League’s Triple Crown.

 

 

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