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(Duke)...5'10'', 178...Clarence McKay Parker ... All-American tailback at Duke ... Dodgers' second-round pick in 1937, but signed Philadelphia Athletics baseball contract, expecting to play pro football briefly ... All-NFL, 1938-1940 ... NFL's Most Valuable Player, 1940 ... Triple-threat, two-way back who paced Dodgers to their greatest seasons in 1940, 1941 ... Spearheaded Yankees to AAFC Eastern title in 1946 ... Born May 17, 1912, in Portsmouth, Virginia ... Died November 6, 2013, at age of 101.
Ace Parker never really intended to play pro football when he completed his career as an All-American tailback at Duke University in 1936. His ambition was to be a major league baseball player and he signed a contract with the Philadelphia Athletics. But after the 1937 baseball season, he obtained permission from the Athletics to give pro football a try.
He joined the Brooklyn Dodgers of the National Football League, still really expecting to play out just one pro football season and then call it a career. History now records that the 1937 season wasn't "the end of it" for the 5-10, 178-pound fireball. Ace stayed with the Dodgers until World War II military service interrupted his career in 1942.
He returned to the pros in 1945 with the Boston Yanks then added a brilliant final campaign with the New York Yankees of the All-America Football Conference in 1946.
Interestingly, it was baseball and not the huge NFL linemen that Ace faced every weekend that proved to be the biggest stumbling block in his career. Broken ankles twice endangered his pro football career and, in 1940, he won Most Valuable Player honors in the NFL even though he had suffered a broken left ankle in a summer baseball game that year. For the first three weeks of the season, he had to wear a 10-pound brace that extended from his ankle to his knee.
Ace wasn't exceptionally fast anyway, but he continued doing just what he had always done – running, passing, catching passes, punting, placekicking, returning punts and kickoffs and playing defense. The Brooklyn Dodgers of the early 1940s were a constant threat to the New York Giants and Washington Redskins for supremacy in their division and Parker was the guiding force of the Dodgers attack.
1946 AAFC – Cleveland Browns 14, New York Yankee 9
Parker did not start but played in the game. He completed 8 of 18 passes for 81 yards and one interception. He also had 14 rushes for 55 yards and four punts for a 29.0-yard average.
All-NFL: 1938 (OF, UPI, PFWA, IN, NY) • 1939 (PFWA, EY) • 1940 (OF, AP, UPI, IN, NY, EY, HA)
All-NFL Second Team: 1937 (IN) • 1938 (EY) • 1939 (OF, IN, NY, HA)
All-AFC Second Team: 1946 (UPI)
In the AAFC Record Book
(at time of his retirement following 1946 season)
• [1st] Most Consecutive Pass Attempts Without An Interception – 72
• [1st] Most Consecutive Pass Completions Without An Interception – 40
• [1st] Fewest Passes Intercepted, Season – 3
• [2nd] Longest Pass Completion -- 75 (to Harry Burress vs. Miami, Dec. 9, 1946)
• An Interception
League/Team Statistical Titles
NFL League Statistical Championships
Interception Titles: 1940
Team Statistical Championships
Passing Titles: 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1946
Scoring Titles: 1938, 1939, 1940
Interception Titles: 1940
Punt Return Titles: 1941
Awards and Honors
• 1940 NFL MVP (OF)
Full Name: Clarence McKay Parker
Birthdate: May 17, 1912
Birthplace: Portsmouth, Virginia
High School: Woodrow Wilson (Portsmouth, Va.)
Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: January 15, 1972
Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: July 29, 1972
Presenter: Jack White, GM, 49ers
Other Members of Class of 1972: Lamar Hunt, Gino Marchetti, Ollie Matson
Pro Career: 7 seasons, 68 games
Drafted: 2nd round (13th overall) in 1937 by Brooklyn Dodgers
Uniform Number: 7 (31, 88)
Thank you, Jack (presenter Jack White, General Manager of the San Francisco 49ers. Parker was a scout for the 49ers at the time). I really didn’t know I was that good. If I had I probably should have asked for more money!
But, I want to say I’m glad to be here and the hospitality and courtesy the people of Canton have shown is above and reproach of words. First of all before I go any further into this, I would like to thank the people that were involved for me being selected into the Professional Football Hall of Fame. The names would be too numerous for me to go through them and you wouldn’t be interested anyway so I’ll just thank them as a whole.
And, I’ll say this that this is the greatest thrill of all my life. I’ve had a number of thrills as you have heard Jack mention. A number of great things have happened to me throughout the years, but when I was selected and when I was called on the phone to say that I had been selected as a member of the Pro Hall of Fame, it was like the first time I went to bat in the major leagues and hit a home run. When I rounded second base my knees gave way and I realized what had happened. Well, this is what happened over the phone when I received the call. My knees kind of buckled just a little. But, it is indeed a thrill and I’ll say that I’m honored to be placed among the greats in the Pro Fall of Fame.
In my years as I come along, there was no thought in my mind of ever being put in the Hall of Fame of Professional Football. In the first place, I always thought I was too small. I weighed 168 pounds and was 5-10 tall. So, I couldn’t compare with the others so I just thought I would be passed over, but since I was selected I want to say that I’m sure glad it happened while I’m still here.
And, now I would like to say to the people of Canton, how courteous you have been. The hospitality you have extended us to me and my friends who have come up from Virginia and how I hope over the next few years as long as I can possibly make it, I will return each year for this is the greatest affair the best organized, the best put forth, the greatest effort had to be with you people of Canton and the people that are connected with this organization – the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And, you have done a wonderful job and I want to say again, I want to thank you for the courtesy and want to thank all the people involved of putting me into the Hall of Fame and I hope to see you again.
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