Sep 13, 2016

1973 N.L. Champion Mets Relief Pitcher: Harry Parker (1972-1975)

Harry William Parker was born on September 14, 1947 in Highland Park, Illinois. The six foot three right hander was drafted in the fourth round of the 1965 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals.

In 1967 at A ball Modesto Parker was 12-5 with a 2.80 ERA. He moved up the ranks of the minor leagues the next two years & in 1970 was 8-6 at AAA Tulsa when he made it to the big leagues. Parker made his debut at St. Louis on August 8th starting against the Montreal Expos allowing six runs over 5,1 innings. Two days later he earned his first career win pitching in relief against the San Diego Padres. Parker made seven appearances on the year.

In 1971 he was back at AAA Tulsa going 11-12 making a brief four game appearances in St. Louis that June. He only pitched 11 games in his first two seasons going 1-1 with 11 strike outs with a 5.11 ERA in 27 innings pitched. He showed great promise as a young pitcher and was sought after by the Mets.

In October 1971 Parker was traded along with Jim Beauchamp, Chuck Taylor and Tom Coulter to the New York Mets in exchange for 1969 Mets outfielder Art Shamsky, pitchers Rich Folkers, Jim Bibby and Charlie Hudson.

Parker spent the 1972 season at AAA Tidewater leading the Tides staff going 14-9 with a 2.61 ERA. For the 1973 Mets pennant team, Parker became an important part of coach Rube Walkers pitching staff.

He began the season as a starter eventually filling in Jon Matlack’s spot when he went on the DL after being hit in the face with a line drive. Parker made his Mets debut on April 15th as a starter in a game at Philadelphia against the Phillies. He pitched seven scoreless innings allowing a run in the 8th inning earning the 2-1 victory. He won his second start as well pitching seven scoreless innings against the Montreal Expos at Shea Stadium on April 21st. 

Parker remained in the starting rotation, beating the Pirates & Expos again as well as the San Francisco Giants getting to an impressive 5-0 by the middle of June with a 2.98 ERA. He lost his next two decisions and was put in the bullpen by early July, to compensate for a struggling Tug McGraw. McGraw had trouble getting outs & the bullpen needed help. Parker shifted into the reliever role having a fine month of July, earning a win & three saves in nine appearances.

As Tug McGraw eventually settled down by the end of the season & regained his fireman’s role, Parker became what is known today as the set up man the rest of the way.

In the final two months of the year he was 2-2 with two saves & one hold to his credit. Parker finished the season 8-4 with five saves and a 3.35 ERA. In 38 games, he pitched 96 innings & he struck out 63 batters, walking 36 & allowing 79 hits.
                      

Post Season: In the 1973 post season Parker had a few bad breaks & some hard luck.

In Game #4 of the NLCS at Shea Stadium, he came in relief after George Stone & Tug McGraw had held the Cincinnati Reds to just one run in eleven innings. Parker then surrendered a 12th-inning homer to Pete Rose, taking the loss in relief, evening the Series at two games apiece. This came on the day after the classic brawl between Bud Harrelson & Rose.

In the 1973 World Series, Harry first appeared in the in the Game #2 twelve inning marathon in Oakland, pitching a scoreless 4th inning.

In Game #3 at Shea Stadium Parker entered a 2-2 tie game in the 11th inning. The game started out in a classic matchup between two of the games best pitchers: Tom Seaver & Catfish Hunter. With one out, Parker walked Oakland pinch hitter Ted Kubiak. He then struck out Angel Mangual, but the ball sailed past catcher Jerry Grote, and Kubiak reached second base. Oakland’s rally continued as Bert Campaneris delivered a single to center field scoring Kubiak with what would be the games winning run.

Parker made one more appearance relieving Jon Matlack, pitching 1.1 innings of relief in Game #7. Overall in the World Series he appeared in three games, struck out two A’s & did not allow an earned run in 3.1 innings pitched.

In 1974 Parker made a start on April 28th earning a win against the Giants at Candlestick Park. He pitched in relief most of May, earning two saves, two holds & two losses.

He found himself in the starting rotation again by June & lost his next four starting decisions. During July & August he won three games where he pitched into the 8th inning allowing less than two runs each time.

In mid August he pitched the only complete game of his career, a one run nine hit performance coming against the Dodgers at Shea Stadium. He was eventually back in the bullpen & finished with a hard luck 4-12 season, posting a 3.92 ERA in 40 games pitched. He earned four saves which strangely were enough to lead the team.

In 1975 he entered a 2-2 tie game in the top of the 11th inning of the second game of the season. He allowed a double to the Phillies veteran Tony Taylor taking the loss. On July 20th Parker eared his last Mets save against the Houston Astros at Shea Stadium. He was 2-3 with a 4.41 ERA through the end of June, when the Mets gave up on him, selling his contract back to the St. Louis Cardinals.

He appeared in only 17 more games over the next two seasons going 0-1 pitching in St. Louis & with the Cleveland Indians.

Parker finished his six year career going 15-21 with 12 saves 172 strike outs 128 walks and a 3.85 ERA in 315 innings over 124 games pitched.

Family: His brother Jack Parker was a one time infielder in the Cleveland Indians' organization.

Passing: In August of 2012 there were reports that Harry Parker had passed away but there was little information found to prove this as truth. Eventually Parkers nephew confirmed he had indeed passed away a few months earlier. He was just 64 years old.

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