Parnell's bat made him Hall worthy
Negro League outfielder a Cooperstown candidate
It takes most players a few years to have their "career" seasons. But Red Parnell's first season with the Negro League Birmingham Black Barons in 1927 remains as remarkable now as it was then.
The then 22-year-old, who played for the Minor League New Orleans Caulfield Ads the previous season, broke into the Negro Major Leagues with a .415 batting average -- the highest by a rookie in Major or Minor League history.
Parnell would go on to have a solid career as an outfielder for six Negro League teams and bat at least .300 eight times, paving the way for him to become a candidate this year in the special Negro League election to the Hall of Fame.
A 12-member voting committee, appointed by the Hall of Fame Board of Directors and chaired by former Major League Baseball commissioner Fay Vincent, will meet Feb. 25-27 to review the final ballots of the candidates. The committee will then vote, and any candidate receiving 75 percent of the votes will be elected to the Hall of Fame and enshrined during the July 30 Induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, N.Y., along with Bruce Sutter, Tracy Ringolsby (Spink Award winner) and a Ford C. Frick recipient to be named later in February.
Parnell's playing career spanned 18 years (1926-43) and included stints with the Houston Black Buffaloes, Monroe Monarchs, New Orleans Crescent Stars, Nashville Elite Giants, Columbus Elite Giants and the Philadelphia Stars, where he spent the final eight years of his playing career and appeared in two East-West All-Star Games.
An under-publicized outfielder from Austin, Texas, Parnell averaged .326 during his 18-year playing career. The 1927 National Negro League batting title was his first -- and last.
But he received some overdue publicity much later when he was selected by The Baseball Page.com as one of the 13 best outfielders in Negro League history. That list included: Cool Papa Bell, Home Run Brown, Oscar Charleston, Rap Dixon, Pete Hill, Fats Jenkins, Minnie Minoso, Alejandro Oms, Spot Poles, Turkey Stearnes, Cristobal Torriente and Jud Wilson.
Among other career highlights, he went 5-for-5 with a double and triple in a game on Aug. 22, 1935 and managed the Black Buffaloes in 1932, the Crescent Stars in '34, and Philadelphia Stars.
The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Parnell was born on Sept. 17, 1905, and died on Feb. 16, 1954.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.