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The “Very True” Story of Jack Parkman

by Tony Angeloni

Some may not know about the slugging right-handed batter who was loved at every stop he had in his MLB career. Jack Parkman was born… well, no one is sure where he was born. Some say he was made of other baseball players: A.J. Pierzynski’s attitude, the swing of Juan Uribe, and the trot of Babe Ruth.

Parkman attended the University of Tennessee, where he majored in theater. It was only by a sheer act of god that he picked up a baseball bat while acting in the skit “Who’s On First.” Jack said, “It was at that moment I knew I was destined to play baseball.” At that performance just happened to be a scout for the Oakland Athletics, Jamie Hassey. Hassey went back to Oakland and told his GM that he saw the future of the Athletics – and it was Jack Parkman!

Parkman was drafted No. 1 overall by Oakland, the first rookie to ever be drafted to have not played a game of baseball. J.P., as the fans would call him in Oakland, led the A’s in RBIs, home runs, hits, and suspensions over a four-year span. He came up with his now famous “shimmy,” which Jack said after he retired, was only started because his underwear would ride up. No matter, it drove all the ladies crazy and continued to make it part of his repertoire. After four great years with the A’s, in a surprising turn of events, Parkman was allowed to test free agency. Oakland’s GM Sammy Seed said that they had a new direction for the Oakland A’s and wanted to start signing players who wouldn’t demand limos, pre and post-game meals, playing time, money, and a winning culture.

With that chapter of Jack’s baseball life over, he focused on the future. He signed a deal to be the starting catcher for the Cleveland Indians. The Cinderella story from the previous season looked to do even better with the addition of Parkman. He ingratiated himself with his new teammates and became a big part of the Cleveland community … would be a correct statement if we weren’t talking about Jack Parkman. He was paid to do one job, and that was all he was going to do. He led the Indians in home runs right up until he was traded in a financial move by the Indians to the beloved Chicago White Sox.

Jack was the missing piece to the Sox playoff puzzle, as they made it all the way to ALCS. Meeting up with his former team the Cleveland Indians, the series was a taffy pull.

Going all the way to game seven, Parkman had a chance to win the game but struck out on three pitches. He was so distraught after this that he decided to train in the offseason with Michael Jordan. Jordan was quoted as saying “Take it from me, I know baseball, and baseball players, he’s a winner.” With the endorsement of the greatest basketball player in the world, Parkman was ready for a new season.

Jack went on to have the biggest season a Major Leaguer ever had with a batting average of .447, 90 home runs, 360 RBIs, and 69 walks.  The Sox only lost 10 games the whole year and went on to win the World Series. In fact, the Sox went on to win the next six titles, becoming one of the greatest dynasties in baseball.

With nothing left to prove, Parkman left the game of baseball. The whereabouts of this legendary player were nonexistent for over 15 years. As sightings of the Sultan of Shimmy were always abound, he did finally resurface on Tik Tok as a social media influencer.

He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2021, as he was the only one to get votes from the voting body. Elected with 100% of the votes, the was never a doubt that the vote would be unanimous. Jack did not attend the ceremony though due to a conflict with the lack of 5G and quality WiFi in Cooperstown New York.

During a sit-down with Mr. Parkman, I asked if he had any regrets in his life, and he told me, “No.” When asked how he would describe his Hall of Fame Baseball career, he said “Over.” Always an elegant one with words, I asked him one last question, “What’s next for Jack Parkman?” He got up, started to walk out of the room, tilted down his sunglasses, and said, “Dinner.”

Jack Parkman would finish out his life penniless due to investing everything he had in two sure bet companies, Quibi and Theranos. Jack found himself having to work at a Dollar General that had been built right next to his house. With his money and fame gone, Parkman died on his lunch break, sitting on a bench, glasses on, watching a pickup game of baseball, where he was struck in the head with an errant foul ball.

So next time you get up and do a shimmy, think of the late, great Jack Parkman.


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