Saturday, November 26, 2016

Loyalty and Longevity Pt. 5: Mel Parnell

In this series, I look at players who played their entire Major League career with the Red Sox, as long as said Major League career lasted at least ten years.
Mel Parnell just barely qualifies.  He played exactly ten years and the last few of those seasons he was just barely hanging on.  Unfortunately injuries and overwork derailed what had been a very promising career.  But Parnell is still one of the greatest left-handed pitchers to ever pitch for the Red Sox.
Parnell missed the 1946 World Series run as he had spent some time in the service during World War II and then spent the 1946 season in the minor leagues in Scranton.  He had a terrific season for Scranton and pitched at Louisville to start the 1947 season then was brought to the Majors.  He was not terribly impressive in his rookie season, going just 2-3 with a 6.39 ERA in 15 games, including five starts.  But Boston stuck with him and it really began to pay off quickly.
1948 was a terrific season for both Parnell and Boston, even though it ended badly.  Parnell was one of the most reliable starters for the Red Sox down the stretch.  He finished the season 15-8 with a 3.14 ERA and pitched 212 innings.  He should have been the starting pitcher in the one-game playoff at the end of the season against the Indians to determine who would meet the Boston Braves in the World Series.  But manager Joe McCarthy chose to go with his gut instinct and pitch Denny Galehouse.  Parnell was ready to go.  Galehouse was shelled and the Red Sox missed out on the World Series.
If the Cy Young Award were given out in 1949, Parnell likely would have won.  He led the Majors in wins (25) and complete games (27).  He also led the league in ERA (2.77) and innings pitched (295.1).  Parnell was named to the All Star team for the first time and finished fourth in the MVP vote (teammate Ted Williams won).  Parnell and Ellis Kinder pretty much carried the Red Sox into a final series against the Yankees to determine who would win the pennant.  Unfortunately Boston folded in the final two games.
The next three seasons saw Parnell win 18 games twice.  He continued to provide well over 200 innings and ERAs in the 3s.  He was also an All Star one more time in 1951.  Parnell's record dipped to 12-12 in 1952 before improving to 21-8 in 1953 with a 3.06 ERA.  But that was his last great season.
Parnell suffered an injury to his left wrist when he was struck by a pitch from former teammate Mickey McDermott and he would never be the same.  Over the next three years, Parnell's record was a disappointing 12-17.  He had one last gasp of excellence in his final season of 1956 when he pitched the only no-hitter of his career.  It was against the White Sox at Fenway Park.  Parnell called it quits after 1956 but went on to a career as a broadcaster and held that position during the Impossible Dream season.
Mel Parnell spent his entire big league career with the Red Sox.  He continues to hold the team record for wins by a southpaw (123).  Jon Lester came close, but ended his Red Sox career with 110.  Parnell's record is safe for now.  But even if he does get surpassed, he will still be remembered.  It is a shame injuries cut short his terrific career.    


  1. One of my PC guys. Mel would have been great if not for getting hurt

  2. I don't have nearly enough cards of him I have decided. I don't have a single card released when he was playing for example.