Mel Parnell has passed away.
Parnell was one of the stars of David Halberstam’s essential Summer of ’49, and that season was legendary. He racked up a league-leading record of 25-7 while also topping the junior circuit in innings (295.1) and complete games (27), while posting a 2.77 ERA, four shutouts and coming out of the bullpen to finish another five games.
He has more wins than any left hander in Red Sox history, and sits in the team’s top 10 list in wins, innings pitched, games started, complete games and shutouts.
But as a pitcher, his greatest legacy is his work in dispelling the myth that lefties couldn’t succeed in Fenway Park, due to the quick line and attractive presence of the left field wall. “Lefthanders have to pitch inside here,’’ Parnell told the Boston Globe in 1997. “Pitching inside, you keep the hitter’s elbows close to his body.’’
Parnell capped his career in 1956, throwing a no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox at Fenway on July 14, winning 4-0. After that, an elbow injury on top of myriad ailments forced him out of the game at 34.
As a constant student of the history of the game, I’ve always enjoyed reading about Parnell, part of a post-World War II generation of players who helped bring the game to new heights, pitched with the right amount of determination and abandon and played the game with pride.
He’ll be missed by many, there’s no doubt.