Duke legend Ace Parker dead at 101
Clarence “Ace” Parker, one of the most accomplished athletes in Duke history, died Wednesday morning at age 101 in Portsmouth, Va.
Parker played football, baseball and basketball at Duke in the 1930s before playing in the NFL and with Philadelphia A’s in Major League Baseball. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972 and was the oldest living former pro football player.
“Our thoughts go out to Ace’s family and friends,” Steve Perry, the Hall of Fame’s president/executive director, said in a statement on Wednesday. “On behalf of all of the Hall of Famers, the Board, and staff, we reflect on a full life lived and will forever remember the football legacy created by Ace Parker.”
Born May 17, 1912, Parker played for famed coach Wallace Wade at Duke and earned three letters from 1934-36. He was a two-time All-American selection, being named second team as a junior and first team as a senior.
Duke was 24-5 in football during Parker’s three seasons of play, mostly at quarterback. He also returned a kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown against North Carolina in 1936.
Parker was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1955, the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame (1963) and the Duke Athletics Hall of Fame in 1975.
In baseball, Parker hit a home run in his first at-bat in the Major Leagues while playing with the A’s on April 30. 1937. He played two seasons with Philadelphia, 94 games total, before deciding to play professional football.
In the NFL, Parker was named NFL most valuable player in 1940. His statistics that season included throwing 10 touchdown passes, rushing for 306 yards and two touchdowns and catching two touchdown passes. He also kicked 19 PATS, averaged 38 yards per punt, and his six interceptions on defense tied him for the league lead.
After serving in the Navy during World War II, Parker played one season with the New York Yankees of the All-American Football Conference.
By 1947, Parker returned to Durham as an assistant football coach. He would stay on Duke’s football staff until 1965.
He has ties to the Durham Bulls, serving as the team’s player-manager from 1949-52.
He was Duke’s head baseball coach from 1953-66, compiling at 166-162-4 record that included a Southern Conference championship in 1953 and ACC titles in 1956 and 1957.
Parker guided Duke to the College World Series in 1953 and 1961. The Blue Devils haven’t played in the NCAA Tournament since that 1961 season.