The magical season of the first-place Pittsburgh Pirates was thrown a nasty curveball on Tuesday morning when former star Dave Parker went public with the news he is battling Parkinson's disease.
In talking with Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the 62-year-old Parker revealed he is in the early stages of the neurological disorder for which there is no known cure. Parker says he was diagnosed in February 2012 and that his sister is battling a more advanced stage of the disease.
Muhammad Ali, Michael J. Fox and Billy Graham are some of the more well-known celebrities who have Parkinson's.
Despite the sentence that awaits him, it sounds like Parker is dealing with the disease with the same approach as he did opposing pitchers —fierce, focused and with an unblinking stare that earned him the nickname "Cobra."
“There's no fear,” Parker told Starkey. “I've had a great life. I always dreamt of playing baseball, and I played. I'm 62 years old and fortunate to make it to this point. I have some beautiful kids that I got to watch grow up and become adults. My fingerprints are on the baseball industry. I feel good about that. I have nothing to feel bad about.”
Though Parker played for five other teams and had a great run with the Cincinnati Reds, he is still remembered first and foremost as a Pirate. He won the 1978 NL MVP award, was a key member of the "We Are Family" World Series team and was named to four All-Star teams as a Pirate (out of seven total appearances).
Parker also made his share of loud and controversial headlines. In 1979, he signed a $5 million, five-year deal that was the biggest in team sports at the same time. He also struggled with cocaine abuse and a pair of bad knees that prevented him from fulfilling the promise of that contract. He retired in 1991 at age 40 and served as a coach for a few different organizations before retiring to Ohio where he held an interest in Cincinnati-area Popeyes chicken restaurants.
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