Let me introduce you to Clarence "Ace" Parker. He was the star athlete at Duke University in the mid 1930s. He played football, basketball, and baseball for the Blue Devils. Football was his best sport. In 1935 he was second team All-American. In 1936 he was a consensus All-American and finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting.
In 1937 Parker ended up playing baseball for the Philadelphia Athletics and football for the Brooklyn Dodgers. His career in professional baseball was extremely short lived. In two seasons, 1937 and 1938, he played roughly 100 games and batted just .179 with 2 home runs. While his professional baseball career was less than notable, his professional football career landed him in the Professional Football Hall of Fame. He played a total of 7 seasons in the NFL, missing 1941-1944 to serve in the Army, and was one of the best passers, runners, and punters in the league. In 1940 he was the NFL MVP.
So how does he get to the Durham Bulls?
After he retired from professional football Parker joined the Chicago Cubs Piedmont League entry in Portsmouth, Virginia as a player. He spent three years with the Baby Bears Minor League team before returning to Durham to become a player-manager for the Bulls, who were the Tigers Piedmont League team at that time. He ended up spending 4 seasons with the Bulls before he got the head baseball coaching job at Duke.
Now, the only baseball item I have really found of Parker are a few random baseballs and a Durham Bulls matchbook from the early 1950s. I am not really sure how authentic the baseballs are and I am not really digging the whole match book thing. Which has brought me to track down a football card of the former Durham Bulls manager.
I found my autograph of Parker for my Durham Bulls post, but I actually ended up picking up an extra card through the whole thing. I ended up trading with a life long Duke fan who lives locally, loves some of the older college athletes who played nearby, and has a pretty cool collection of some of these players.
I ended up with this 1975 Fleer Immortal Roll Call card of Ace Parker as an extra.
The card has a crease, but cannot really complain about free cards ever. Since I am not really much of football card guy, I am not sure how much I can really tell you about this card outside of the year and manufacturer. I am pretty sure that the picture is from his days in the NFL, but I am not certain as to what NFL team this would have been back in the 1930s or 1940s. I have seen a few Duke things with him wearing number 7, but I think they are pictures that people just colored in blue. Most of the Duke athletics pictures show him with a 34 jersey.
Definitely a different type of card for my collection that made me step out of my comfort zone a bit to find and track down. I cannot wait to share the Ace Parker autograph with everyone in the next week or two.