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Negro Leaguer of the Month

Negro Leaguer of the Month
December, 2013

Jonathan Clyde Parris

Position: Third Base
Batted: Right Threw: Right
Height: 5 ’-8",  Wt. 170
Born: September 11, 1922 in Panama City, Panama
Career: 1940-1960

Teams: Baltimore Elite Giants, New York Black Yankees, St. Jean Braves, Pueblo Dodgers, Miami Sun Sox, Elmira Pioneers, Montreal Royals, Dallas-Ft. Worth Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Monterrey Sultans

Clyde Parris could do it all as a hard-hitting third baseman, but he was born a decade too early to make it big in the Major Leagues.

After growing up in Panama, Parris came to the United States and played for the Baltimore Elite Giants in 1946, before being released to make room for Hall of Famer Willie Wells. Parris signed with the New York Black Yankees for the end of '46 and all of '47, and while with the Yanks he homered off Satchel Paige at Yankee Stadium, with his long drive bouncing off the right fielder's head over the fence, much like a famous play in the Major Leagues decades later involving Jose Canseco. CLICK HERE TO WATCH!

Parris remembers playing against Josh Gibson during the great catcher's last season, and claimed that, though Gibson couldn't even bend down into his squat because of bad knees, he hit homers each time their team's faced each other.

With the Elite Giants and Black Yankees, Parris played with Negro League stalwarts Bill Perkins, Dick Seay, Ameal Brooks, Bob Griffith, Jim Gilliam, Joe Black, Jumbo Kimbro and George Crowe.

After a few seasons of independent ball, Parris signed with the St. Jean Braves of the Class C Provincial League of the Minors. With the Braves, Parris played with Negro League pitching great Ernest Burke, his teammate with the Elite Giants for a few months in '46.

After hitting .294 with 16 homers with St. Jean, Parris was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers and assigned to their farm club, the Pueblo Dodgers of the Class A Western League. Parris again batted well (.280 and 13 hrs) and was promoted to the Miami Sun Sox where his teammate was shortstop Maury Wills.

In '54, Parris was named MVP of the Class A Eastern League by batting .313 with 40 doubles, 13 triples and 13 homers while also playing third base like a Gold Glover. Parris beat out Bobby Richardson for the award, as the future Yankees star batted .310 for the Binghampton Triplets.

In 1955, Parris played with the Montreal Royals with future Major Leaguers Tommy Lasorda, Don Drysdale and Rogers Craig, and he finished second on the team in homers with 16. Parris stayed with Montreal until 1959, leading the International League in hitting at age 33 in '56 with a .321 mark.

After leaving Montreal, Parris played with a handful of other teams such as the Toronto Maple Leafs where he was teammates with future Major League managers (and World Series winners) Chuck Tanner ('79 Pittsburgh Pirates) and Sparky Anderson ('75 and '76 Reds, '84 Tigers).

Parris was quite similar to Ray Dandridge in that he was short and strong, a fine right-handed hitter with power, and was an excellent fielder--though not quite on the same level as the Hall of Famer. Major League slugger Jim Gentile was quoted as saying that Parris was a Major League hitter, and Dodger Billy Harris said, “That guy would have been a superstar in the big leagues. He was a great third baseman. He could hit to all fields. He had everything going for him … it’s just too bad he didn’t have a chance."

Parris' last great season was during the 1959-60 winter league season in Panama when he led the league in hitting, .434, at age 37, setting the all-time batting average record in Panama League history.

After retiring from baseball, Parris moved to Queens, NY and worked as a clerk for the city Department of Sanitation and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority until his retirement in 1988.

At the writing of this bio, Parris is alive and well at age 91.

XXX