Bucs' Parker Hopes 12th Time Is the Charm

Article excerpt

If he had a ballot, Dave Parker would think twice before putting Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire into the Hall of Fame.

But Parker would not hesitate to vote for himself.

"I was probably the best player in baseball from 1975 until '80," Parker said. "I won just about every award you could win -- batting title, league MVP, MVP of the All-Star Game. Usually, people who have done all the things that I've done are in the Hall of Fame."

Yet, Parker, a canon-armed right fielder who ranks among the mightiest sluggers in Pirates history, is not enshrined in Cooperstown, N.Y.

This year, there are no easy picks on the ballot -- strong cases can be made for and against guys like Jim Rice, Bert Blyleven and Andre Dawson -- and Parker likely will be denied again. Results of voting by the Baseball Writers Association of America will be announced Tuesday.

Parker received just 11.4 percent of the vote last year, and peaked at 24.5 percent in 1998. A player must be selected on 75 percent of the ballots for induction.

A seven-time All-Star, Parker won the National League batting title in 1977 and '78. Parker was the league MVP in 1978, when he batted .334 with 30 home runs, 117 RBI and 20 stolen bases.

Parker's batting stats compare favorably to Hall of Famers Tony Perez and Billy Williams. However, most voters, perhaps recalling Parker's admitted cocaine use and involvement in the Pittsburgh drug trials in 1985, have not been swayed.

"I don't even know what the criteria are for the Hall of Fame anymore," Parker said. "It couldn't be numbers, because I've got those. It couldn't be anything that caused problems outside of baseball, because (Dennis) Eckersley and (Paul) Molitor and some other guys who had off-the-field problems are in there."

Eckersley battled alcoholism and fathered a child out of wedlock. Molitor has admitted to abusing drugs early in his career. Both entered the Hall of Fame in 2004.

In the wake of last month's release of the Mitchell Report, detailing alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs by more than 80 players, the voters have a new set criteria to consider. Parker said any player proven to have used steroids should be banned from the Hall of Fame. …