09 Jun

a case for cooperstown

Today is Dave Parker’s 73rd birthday, which makes it a good time to ask, Why is he not in the National Baseball Hall of Fame? There is only one native Mississippian in Cooperstown: Starkville’s Cool Papa Bell, a star in the Negro Leagues. Parker, born in Grenada, should be there, too. He was a seven-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, two-time batting champion, two-time World Series champ and one-time National League MVP. He was drafted out of a Cincinnati high school in 1970 and played in the majors from 1973-91, batting .290 with 2,712 hits, 339 home runs and 1,493 RBIs. He had one of the best right-field arms in the game in his prime. Nicknamed “The Cobra,” he was baseball’s first million-dollar-a-year player. He had a controversial side. He endured weight problems and injuries at various times and was embroiled in the cocaine scandal of the early ’80s. That’s probably what hurt him with the BBWAA voters; he fell off that ballot in 2011, never coming close to election. His fate now rests with the special selection committees. Parker, who is battling Parkinson’s, is in the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and the Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Fame. He really ought to be in Cooperstown. P.S. Hurston Waldrep is set to become the 22nd Southern Miss alumnus to play in the big leagues. The right-hander is slated to start for Atlanta today at Washington. Waldrep, the Braves’ top draft pick in 2023 and current No. 2 prospect, pitched at USM in 2021-22 before finishing his college career at Florida. … Former USM standout Justin Storm, a seventh-round pick by Miami last summer, is having a fine season at Low-Class A Jupiter. The Madison Central High alum, a 6-foot-7 lefty, is 3-1 with a 0.55 ERA in 10 games. The lone run he allowed in a three-inning stint on Saturday against Lakeland was a homer by former William Carey standout Patrick Lee, who recently signed with Detroit as a free agent. … Ex-Madison Central star Braden Montgomery suffered a broken ankle Saturday in Texas A&M’s win against Oregon in the NCAA Super Regional. He is done for the season. Montgomery — a likely first-round MLB draft pick next month — hit .322 with 27 homers for the Aggies.