By Dan Yount and Michael Mitchell
The Cincinnati Herald
A Reds’ Hall of Famer and Major League Baseball legend Dave Parker was honored in South Cumminsville on November 1. The City of Cincinnati, Cumminsville Community Council, and the Cincinnati Reds honorarily named Borden Street at Elmore Street near his childhood home as Dave Parker Way.
“I’m really honored to be here today, because this is where it all started,” Parker said at the street naming ceremony. “I’ve seen people today I used to play baseball with, go to school with. It was a pleasure growing up here. And I drive through here on occasion just to reminisce, because this is it. This is where it started and made me the individual that I am.”
City officials, Parker’s family and former Reds players including superstars George Foster and Ron Oester attended the ceremony alongside Parker. Many alumni of Parker’s alma mater, Courter Technical High School, came to honor Parker as did his high school coach, teachers, and counselor. Media stars such as Courtis Fuller and John Popovich also were in attendance.
The Cincinnati native lived on Borden Street as a kid, which wasn’t too far from the then-Crosley Field location.
Parker was originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1970 where he played for years before becoming a free agent in 1983 and playing for his hometown team.
In Cincinnati, Parker played in 631 games and had a batting average of .281, hitting 107 home runs.
After his four years with the Reds, Parker also played with Oakland Athletics, Milwaukee Brewers, Toronto Blue Jays and California Angels, which became the Los Angeles Angels.
In his career, Parker averaged a .290 batting average with a total of 339 home runs in more than 2,400 games.
Parker, the 1978 National League MVP, was also a seven-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, three-time Silver Slugger winner, two-time NL batting champion and a two-time World Series champion in his 19-year MLB career.
Additionally, Parker won the MVP Award in the 1979 Midsummer Classic, won the inaugural Home Run Derby in 1985, and was the first professional athlete to earn $1 million per year, paving the way for athletes of all races across all sports.
Parker was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame in 2014.
The streetnaming honor also recognizes Parker for his contributions to the Cincinnati community and his lasting impact on baseball. Parker’s childhood home was just four houses down from where the event took place.
With Reds Community Fund Executive Director Charley Frank emceeing, the ceremony kicked off with the introduction of Cincinnati City Councilmember Mark Jeffreys. He pulled out a Dave Parker baseball card, the first baseball card he had as a kid.
“Dave has always been a personal hero of mine and an icon,” Jeffreys said. “So, when the South Cumminsville Community Council approached me wanting to honor him where he grew up, I said it would be my honor. The amount that he’s given back to the city of Cincinnati is phenomenal.
“It’s an absolute privilege to sponsor this street unveiling in his name. I really appreciate him for touching my life as a young child and his everlasting contribution to the great sport of baseball and to our city.”
Other speakers at the ceremony included Cincinnati Vice Mayor Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney and Councilmembers Scotty Johnson and Meeka Owens; South Cumminsville Community Council president Derrick Feagin; Hamilton County Commissioner President Alicia Reece; Reds president and COO Phil Castellini; and Parker’s longtime friends Tim Williams and Charles Hampton.
Among the crowd of well over 100 that were on hand to salute Parker were other city officials, local dignitaries, former teachers, friends, local residents and fans.
Parker was accompanied by his wife, Kellye, and several members of his family. From start to finish, the whole event felt like a family affair with all the stories told and love shown to the man known as “The Cobra.”
What was truly a special morning concluded with a proclamation declaring Nov. 1 “Dave Parker Day” and the reveal of the Dave Parker Way sign.
“Congrats to Dave on this well-deserved honor,” Castellini said. “The Reds are so proud the neighborhood includes you as a marquee of its importance in Reds history. It’s performances such as yours where you have met life’s ups and downs with determination, grace and grit that will inspire the next great player to emerge from our local ballfields.”
“Dave is a great friend, great ballplayer and great humanitarian,” Foster said. “He’s deserving of having a street named after him. I want to congratulate him and all the friends that are here to acknowledge the fact that he’s a great person and great ballplayer. And he should be in the Cooperstown Hall of Fame.”
Parker has been battling Parkinson’s disease for more than a decade and during that period has poured much of his time, energy and resources into the Dave Parker39 Foundation. The all-volunteer, non-profit organization has raised thousands of dollars over the years in the effort to find a cure for Parkinson’s disease and make life better for those living with the disease.