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Wes Parker

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Maurice Wesley Parker

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"This award wraps up my career in the most beautiful way possible." - Wes Parker, on winning voting by fans for the greatest defensive first baseman since the inception of the Gold Glove award

Nicknamed "Mr. Steady", Wes Parker was one of the finest defensive first basemen of his era, winning six Gold Gloves and leading the National League in fielding four times. He spent his entire big league career with the Los Angeles Dodgers and became one of the team's better hitters in his later years.

Parker grew up in the Chicago area and moved to California to attend Claremont McKenna College (the only major leaguer to come out of that school). He was signed by the Dodgers prior to the 1963 season and made his pro debut that year with the Santa Barbara Rancheros. After hitting .305 with 11 home runs for the club, he was promoted to the Albuquerque Dukes later in the summer and hit .350 in 26 games for them.

Parker joined the Dodgers in 1964, and as a rookie, he split time between the outfield and first base. He became a regular at first the next season as Ron Fairly moved to the outfield, and was a part of baseball's only all switch-hitting infield (with second baseman Jim Lefebvre, shortstop Maury Wills, and third baseman Jim Gilliam). He went on to hit .304 in the 1965 World Series as Los Angeles defeated the Minnesota Twins in seven games. On June 5th, 1966, he hit a home run from both sides of the plate against the New York Mets. The next summer, he won the first of six straight Gold Glove awards.

"Tommy (Lasorda) worked with me diligently . . . telling me that I was going to be a great hitter. . . the next spring Dixie Walker came to camp . . . he worked with me like Tommy had and finally . . . after weeks of practice . . . the results were amazing." - Wes Parker, quoted in an interview about how he became a better hitter

Prior to 1969, Parker was a below-.250 hitter. That summer he improved dramatically, hitting .278 with a career-best 13 homers. He hit for the cycle in a May 7th, 1970 game against the Mets, and ended that year with a .319 average with 111 RBIs and a league-leading 47 doubles. Following two more solid years, he retired after the 1972 season, shortly after his 33rd birthday. He retired with a then-record .996 fielding percentage at first base.

After his major league days, Parker was a Cincinnati Reds broadcaster in 1973. He made a comeback as a player with the Nankai Hawks in Japan in 1974, hitting .301 with 14 home runs. He won the Diamond Glove Award at first base in the Pacific League.

Like many Los Angeles ex-athletes, Parker has also had an acting career, with the Internet Movie Database showing him with more than a dozen credits. He was named to the Rawlings All-Time Gold Glove Team in 2007.

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