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Wes Parker

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  • Wes Parker

    I was watching a TV show on Nickelodeon the other day (Brady Bunch) and former Dodger first-sacker, Wes Parker did a cameo.......which wasn't uncommon for Dodger (or LA Ram) players at the time. Wes played the boyfriend of Greg's teacher.

    Anwyway, I was thinking of the dramatic change Wes had at the plate at the midway point of his career. When he came up with the Dodgers in 1964, and earned his starting job a year later, Wes was a pretty light hitter. By 1968 he was known as a steady gloveman with a paper bat. The following season though, things turned around. Wes started hitting the ball hard and became one of the Dodgers' big RBI men. In 1970, he had a monster season, driving in 111 runs (with only 10 HR's), with 47 doubles, and batted .319. From 1969 until he ended his career at a young age (32) after the 1972 season, Wes was a good, solid hitter. Wes played a couple of seasons in Japan after that, then retired for good.

    I know that Wes did a little broadcasting after his retirement, but he also played in about four movies and had parts on a few TV shows into the 80's and 90's.

    I don't know what Wes did in the off-season of 1968-69, but it worked for him. Obviously, that was the year the pitching mound was lowered five inches and the strikezone was altered, and that may have given Wes the benefit he needed, along with expansion that diluted pitching somewhat.

    When I think of average players who have monster seasons, I often think of Parker's 1970 season. Or Jim Hickman, who labored from 1962-66 with the Mets as a less than average player with a touch of power, had a terrible season as a part-timer with the Dodgers in 1967, then, two less than average seasons as a Cub (again, with a touch of power - he hit 21 HR's in 1969). Going into the 1970 season, Hickman had a career high average of .257, 21 HR's and 57 RBI's. With the Cubs in 1970, Hickman turned tiger at the plate. At the age of 33 and in the 9th season of his career, he batted .315, belted 32 HR's and drove home 115 runs. He had a .419 on-base percentage and a .582 slugging average. In addition, Jim made the all-star team for the first, and only time in his career. In the 1970 All-Star Game, Jim's hit drove Pete Rose home when Pete slammed into Ray Fosse with the winning run.

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