Jays Miscellanea looks back at a bunch of people you may or may not recall who played for the Toronto Blue Jays. Let’s remember some guys!


One need not squint hard to see “Hall of Fame” in Dave Parker’s numbers. This fearsome Pirates slugger was so much more than simply a larger-than-life bopper. An excellent right fielder with a cannon arm, Parker was a “pure” hitter with a lot of black ink all over his Baseball Reference page. Parker, known as “Cobra,” was a seven-time All Star, 1978 NL MVP (with an additional four top-five finishes in MVP voting), winner of the 1977 and 1978 NL batting titles, and a two time World Series winner, once in 1979 with the Pirates, and again in 1989 with the Athletics.


Perhaps unbeknownst to most baseball fans, Parker also rounded out the last few weeks of his magnificent 19-year journey as a professional ball player in Toronto. At 40 years old, having spent a dismal five months with the Angels, Parker was a shadow of his former self. The Angels released him in September and the Jays signed him seven days later, wrapping his final season slashing a better-than-respectable .333/.400/.444 for a 130 OPS+ over 40 plate appearances in Toronto. Unfortunately, as he was signed in September, Parker was not allowed to join the Blue Jays’ playoff roster for their drubbing at the hands of Rickey Henderson and the Oakland Athletics in the ALCS.


Parker had an excellent, though at times complicated, career. He amassed 339 home runs and 2,712 hits, with a 121 career OPS+ and a .290 career batting average. From his rookie year in 1973 through the Pirates World Series championship in 1979, he was clearly one of the best baseball players on the planet. However, after he negotiated with the Pirates for, at the time, the most lucrative contract in baseball history, injuries and dips in production through the early 1980s made him a target of Pirates fans’ vitriol. The hard feelings manifested in a 1980 incident in which a Pirates fan threw a 9-volt battery at him. (An admission to using cocaine through the late 70s/early 80s at the Pittsburgh drug trials later in the decade further exacerbated his strained relationship with the Pirates faithful). Parker was picked up in free agency by the Reds before the 1984 season, and he thrived in Cincinnati. He registered two of his best seasons in 1985 and 1986, regaining his status as an All-Star. He was then traded to the Athletics before the 1988 season, where he played two good seasons, mostly as a designated hitter. Parker signed as a free agent with Milwaukee for the 1990 season, posting excellent numbers, and representing the Brewers at that year’s All-Star Game. In the off-season, he was dealt to the Angels for Dante Bichette, and finished 1991 with Toronto.


Throughout their history, the Blue Jays have enjoyed short stints from some of the game’s most outstanding players; Rickey Henderson, Dave Winfield, and Jack Morris’s stops in Toronto are well-remembered and well-celebrated. Dave Parker’s brief but successful tenure with the Blue Jays is neither widely remembered nor celebrated, but for one month in 1991, Jays fans got to root for one of baseball’s very best.