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R.I.P. Mel Parnell (1922-2012)


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#1 mabrowndog


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Posted 20 March 2012 - 09:24 PM

Another link to the club's rich past is gone. A 1997 Red Sox Hall of Fame inductee, Mel died today in his hometown of New Orleans at age 89.

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He became the winningest southpaw in team history, going 123-75. Only Clemens, Wakefield and Cy Young gained more victories. He was twice a 20-game winner, leading the AL with 25 in 1949 (along with a league-high 27 complete games in 33 starts) and going 21-8 in 1953. A two-time All-Star, Parnell spent his entire 10-year career with the Red Sox, compiling a 3.50 ERA (though just 3.33 over his first 7 seasons) and 20 shutouts. In 1956, his final season, Mel no-hit the White Sox on July 14 at Fenway, the first by a Boston pitcher in three decades.

"On that particular day, I had a very good screwball. My slider was working good. That gave me pitches that I could work in and out on hitters. I pretty much was able to get the ball right where I wanted it with each pitch, and things fell in line for me."


In retirement he joined the Sox' TV broadcast booth, calling games on WHDH with Ned Martin and Curt Gowdy. Mel called what would become the pennant-clinching moment for the 1967 Red Sox as the beat the Twins at Fenway:

"Little soft pop-up...Petrocelli will take it...he does! The ball game is over! The Red Sox win it! And what a mob on this field! They're coming out of the stands from all over!"


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Edited by mabrowndog, 20 March 2012 - 09:53 PM.


#2 mabrowndog


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Posted 20 March 2012 - 09:37 PM

With Birdie Tebbetts (L) and Vern Stephens (R ):

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Rearing back...

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At snowy Fenway...

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Edited by mabrowndog, 20 March 2012 - 09:38 PM.


#3 mabrowndog


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Posted 20 March 2012 - 09:44 PM

Another great shot from April 14, 1953 following the freak snowstorm that postponed Opening Day.

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#4 jose melendez


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Posted 20 March 2012 - 10:02 PM

So he passes on as still the second best lefty in Sox history after Grove? Not a bad legacy at all.

#5 mabrowndog


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Posted 20 March 2012 - 10:34 PM

From lurker SidinOC:

I saw him pitch in the very first Red Sox game I went attended (July 1, 1951) when I was 8 years old. It was at the old Yankee Stadium and he lost to Eddie Lopat with a score was 5-2. I saw Ted Williams and the DiMaggios and I was hooked from that point on. RIP Mel.

Thanks for posting this sad news.


Here's the box score from that game.

Edited by mabrowndog, 20 March 2012 - 10:36 PM.


#6 LahoudOrBillyC


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Posted 20 March 2012 - 11:19 PM

A few years ago I had the great pleasure to speak with Mr. Parnell on the phone a couple of times. I called to ask him a few questions about a book I was writing about Joe Cronin. In other words, I was a stranger calling him to bother him about the old days when he presumably had better things to do. He was magnificent, immediately making me feel that I was an equal in the conversation, as he peppered me with questions about my own family, what kind of writing I did, following the Red Sox, and, especially, my thoughts on his beloved New Orleans. We spoke for an hour and he had to get off for another engagement. However, he asked if he could call me back the next day to finish up.

Based on these two conversations, and my own memories of listening to him on TV, I make no claim that I knew him. But I am fairly confident is saying he was a hell of guy, a generous, thoughtful soul, full of life until at least 85 when we spoke. Eighty-nine years is a good long life, and I bet he treated most everyone just like he treated me.

#7 Pumpsie


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Posted 21 March 2012 - 12:00 AM

I never saw Mel pitch. But I do very well remember the Gowdy-Martin-Parnell broadcast team. They were excellent. But even in the early sixties, and not that far away from Mel's retirement from pitching, he was always talked about with great respect by everyone.

R.I.P. Mel Parnell

#8 Harry Hooper


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Posted 21 March 2012 - 12:17 AM

This is one in the Dentist's wheelhouse. I hope the Sox work up a nice tribute.

R.I.P., Mel.

#9 PedroSpecialK


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Posted 21 March 2012 - 12:48 AM

A few years ago I had the great pleasure to speak with Mr. Parnell on the phone a couple of times. I called to ask him a few questions about a book I was writing about Joe Cronin. In other words, I was a stranger calling him to bother him about the old days when he presumably had better things to do. He was magnificent, immediately making me feel that I was an equal in the conversation, as he peppered me with questions about my own family, what kind of writing I did, following the Red Sox, and, especially, my thoughts on his beloved New Orleans. We spoke for an hour and he had to get off for another engagement. However, he asked if he could call me back the next day to finish up.

Based on these two conversations, and my own memories of listening to him on TV, I make no claim that I knew him. But I am fairly confident is saying he was a hell of guy, a generous, thoughtful soul, full of life until at least 85 when we spoke. Eighty-nine years is a good long life, and I bet he treated most everyone just like he treated me.

As someone far removed from having a chance to see him pitch, thanks for sharing this.

His two worst seasons totaled 96.2 IP at ~60 ERA+ ball (his rookie and second-to-last seasons). Outside of these two years, during the other 1656 IP of his career, his ERA never exceeded 3.77, his ERA+ never dropped below 109, and he placed in MVP balloting three times, topping out at #4 in voting in 1949. In that legendary 1949 season, he topped the AL in Wins, IP, HR/9, and WAR - all while leading in batters faced.

RIP Mel

Edited by PedroSpecialK, 21 March 2012 - 12:49 AM.


#10 octoberaroma

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 02:11 AM

The photo "With Birdie Tebbetts (L) and Vern Stephens (R )" is hilarious. You've got naked men in the background with the one player on the right who looks like he very well could
be drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette. Definitely an entirely different era.

I always liked the sound of his name, Mel Parnell.

Edited by octoberaroma, 21 March 2012 - 02:13 AM.


#11 OttoC


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Posted 21 March 2012 - 07:33 AM

I remember his no-hittter (radio broadcast) and I've always found one of the interesting things abut his career is that he walked more batters than he struck out, 758 to 732.

I also remember back in 1955 when Herb Score began his ML career and was making headlines. The first time he faced the Red Sox, he struck out 16 batters in a 2-1 Cleveland win. The next time he faced them, he only struck out nine but pitched a 3-hitter in a 19-0 win. Meanwhile, Parnell had missed the first two month of the season because of injury. A Parnell vs. Score pitching match-up between the two left-handers was being trumpeted and on June 7th the two met at Cleveland Stadium. In the top of the first, Goodman walked, Klaus walked, Williams doubled to left to drive them in, Jensen walked, Zauchin walked, and Score was done for the afternoon. Art Houtteman came in and got out of the inning by getting Sammy White to hit into a double-play (run scoring) and striking out Lepcio. Parnell didn't fare much better as he got knocked out of the box in the first, also, giving up three runs: single, walk, walk, single, sacrifice fly, sacrifice (foul) fly, single, before being relieved by George Susce with two outs and runners on 1st and 3rd. The Red Sox went on to win that game. Score got the start against Boston two days later, but he lost, the first of five losses to the Red Sox that season.

#12 dcmissle


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Posted 21 March 2012 - 11:44 AM

The photo "With Birdie Tebbetts (L) and Vern Stephens (R )" is hilarious. You've got naked men in the background with the one player on the right who looks like he very well could
be drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette. Definitely an entirely different era.

I always liked the sound of his name, Mel Parnell.


It's awesome, all of it.

See how things go to hell when you replace those unfiltered Camels or Lucky's with chicken wings.

#13 bankshot1


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Posted 22 March 2012 - 09:30 AM

Never saw him pitch-but do remember him in the booth in the 60s.

RIP Mel

#14 Ted Cox 4 president

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 09:45 AM

Lahoud - Thanks for your post. Nice supplement to the numbers, and it's always a pleasure to hear good things like this.

#15 jacklamabe65


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Posted 24 March 2012 - 02:35 PM

I remember how excited he was throughout that magical fall of 1967 as the third man in the booth. At a function the following year, he told me that calling the final out on TV was his second greatest Red Sox thrill, just behind his no-hitter. He and Nedly had an especially wonderful cordiality that was genuine. He was a gentleman in every way.

#16 LoweTek

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 04:09 PM

You've got naked men in the background with the one player on the right who looks like he very well could be drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette. Definitely an entirely different era.


Most players smoked well into the 70's. Yaz was a notorious chain smoker throughout his career; before, during and after games. He was a chain smoker 15 years ago. As far as I know, he still is. Beer was just as prevalent until as we know, very recently.

As for Parnell, he was a pretty good announcer as former players go. He did play-by-play, unusual now. I remember when Pesky was doing it for a while and there was no comparision. I remember wondering why Parnell wasn't doing it anymore when he was no longer on the broadcasts. He had a nice combination of homer and knowledge and would explain a lot of in game subtleties. Have always had fond memories. I'll add my thanks to Lahoud too. Nice story to hear.