Cincinnati native Dave Parker, who played four of his 19 seasons for the Reds, will be profiled 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12, on the MLB Network in MLB Network Presents: The Cobra At Twilight.
The title is a reference to Parker's battle with Parkinson's disease. Like MLB Network's Johnny Bench documentary in January, the film shows his playing highlights and his life today.
"The man was a beast. That's what he was," says Barry Larkin, the Reds Hall of Fame shortstop, who played with Parker in 1986-87. "To have him be such a dominating personality to asking him if he needs help getting up out of a chair is such a crazy turnaround."
"Thank God for memories," Parker, 68, says in the film, "because that's all I've got right now is my memories."
Parker was the 1978 MVP when he hit .334 for the Pirates. He played 11 seasons for Pittsburgh, followed by the Reds (1984-87); Oakland A's (1988-89), Brewers (1990), Angels and Blue Jays (both 1991). He retired in 1991 with a .290 batting average, 339 home runs and 1,493 RBI.
"This is one of the greatest players who ever put on a baseball uniform," says Marty Brennaman in the film.
The Cobra at Twilight features interviews with Parker and his wife Kellye; former teammates Larkin, Eric Davis, Pete Rose, Dennis Eckersley, Phil Garner, Gary Sheffield and Kent Tekulve; former manager Tony LaRussa; and Pro Football Hall of Famers Tony Dungy and "Mean" Joe Greene.
From the MLB Network release:
"The Cobra at Twilight also looks back on Parker’s involvement in the Pittsburgh drug trials in 1985 and how Parker went on to serve as a mentor and a leader for his younger teammates with the Cincinnati Reds, Oakland A's and Milwaukee Brewers.
" 'The thing that resonated with me more than anything was that he did not want me to drift into some of the things off the field that he did,' recalls former Cincinnati Reds outfielder Eric Davis.
"Now 68 years old, Parker and his wife Kellye give an all-access look at their lives today, as the once towering ballplayer manages his Parkinson’s diagnosis, including daily exercise, medical treatment and regular doctor visits."
A three-time Gold Glove Award winner, three-time Silver Slugger Award winner and two-time NL batting champion, Parker has previously fallen short of election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He was one of 10 candidates on the "Modern Baseball Era" ballot, but was passed this month for former catcher Ted Simmons and baseball union leader Marvin Miller.