Dave Parker: The Cobra’s on-field impact too easily forgotten

Dave Parker

Dave Parker was the star of the stars for the late-’70s Pirates.

Today’s sad news that former All-Star Dave Parker is battling Parkinson’s Disease stirred a host of childhood memories.

I grew up watching “The Cobra.” I was a mediocre right fielder in Little League right around the time Parker was winning batting titles and Gold Gloves patrolling right field in Pittsburgh. For years he was one of my favorite players, both in his truly electric prime as a legitimate five-tool talent with the “We Are Family” Pirates of the late 1970s and later, when he resurrected his career following baseball’s cocaine scandal of the 1980s that also claimed another hero of mine, Vida Blue.

As a West Coast native, I was never a Pirates fan, but they were a fun team to watch throughout much of the 1970s. The late ‘70s “Lumber Company” lineup of Willie Stargell and Bill Madlock and Omar Moreno and more was impressive to say the least, but to me the true superstar was always Parker. Continue reading

Tradition: Dad, Daughter, and The Grand Old Ballgame

AT&T Park, April 15, 2012

Our father-daughter rite of spring: our first Giants game of the new season.

This past Sunday my daughter and I attended our first Giants game of the year. It was one of the Giants’ lesser efforts on this young season, a listless 4-1 loss to the lowly Pirates, but the game result mattered little.

After going to just one game in her first 10 years, my daughter and I have been going to multiple games together every year since my divorce seven years ago, and she’s become as big a fan as I am. We were lucky enough to be at Game One of the 2010 World Series, and we’ve been at Giants FanFest the past couple of years as well, where she realized her dream of meeting Brian Wilson in 2011, blowing right past one of my old heroes, Will Clark, to do so. Continue reading

Meeting Vida

Vida Blue

Vida Blue in his heyday with the Oakland A’s

Vida Blue was one of my baseball idols growing up. He was with the A’s and then the Giants throughout my childhood. I remember actually crying when the Giants traded him to Kansas City before the 1982 season. He was the one guy who was in the Bay Area playing for my teams from the time I could remember all the way up to then. McCovey had retired. Catfish was long gone. Vida was the last one. So I took it kinda hard.

He ran into trouble in KC…part of the infamous cocaine trials of the mid-1980s that scarred baseball for a time. But he paid the price, got straight, and a few years later was back in the Bay Area again, with the Giants to finish his career. And later he went to work in the Giants front office – community relations and such – for many years.  He still works with the Giants and last year appeared on TV with Comcast SportsNet Bay Area too. Continue reading