Dominic Massa / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS – Mel Parnell, the New Orleans native who went on to a star career in Major League Baseball as a starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, died Tuesday. He was 89.
Parnell spent his entire 10-year career with Boston, from 1947 to 1956. He was 17 years old, fresh out of S.J. Peters High School in New Orleans, when he signed with the Red Sox.
The southpaw became known as the winningest left-hander in Red Sox history, with a 123-75 record and a 3.50 ERA. His career win total ranks fourth in team history, behind only Cy Young, Roger Clemens and Tim Wakefield.
In 1949, Parnell led the league in wins as his Red Sox battled down to the wire for the American League pennant. They faced their nemesis, the New York Yankees, who would go on to beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in that year’s World Series.
Most famously, he pitched a no-hitter in 1956, his final season, with a 4-0 victory against the Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park. It was the first no-hitter by a Red Sox pitcher in 33 years.
“This is something a pitcher dreams of,” Parnell told The Times-Picayune in 2002. “You never expect it to happen.”
“On that particular day, I had a very good screwball. My slider was working good. That gave me pitches that I could work in and out on hitters. I pretty much was able to get the ball right where I wanted it with each pitch, and things fell in line for me,” Parnell said.
Parnell was a two-time All-Star selection and the AL starting pitcher for the 1949 All-Star team.
He was elected to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame in 1997.
After his playing career ended, because of a torn muscle in his pitching arm, Parnell managed the New Orleans Pelicans and a series of Red Sox farm clubs.
Parnell was also a member of the Red Sox broadcasting team in the 1960s.