03/21/12 3:42 PM ET
Red Sox mourn the death of former ace Parnell
By Jon Star / MLB.com
He spent his entire career with in Boston and was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 1997.
"Mel died a peaceful death," his son, Mel Parnell Jr., said in a statement. "He loved the Red Sox. They were a big part of his life as well as for our whole family. Dad felt the Red Sox were always like a family and all of us have been so thankful about how they treated him. When he was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame, that was one the great thrills for our family.
"Dad was excited about Spring Training and the coming season. He was able to watch a couple of the games on TV and he always watched them during the season. He had a lot of respect for Jon Lester, who was his favorite player."
The left-hander, originally signed by Boston in 1941 out of New Orleans, won an American League-best 25 games in 1949, led the Junior Circuit in both complete games (27) and innings pitched (295 1/3) and took the ball as the starter for the AL in the All-Star Game. His career win total still ranks fourth all-time in Red Sox history, trailing Cy Young, Roger Clemens and Tim Wakefield, respectively.
Parnell -- still the all-time leader among Red Sox lefties in wins -- was a cherished member of the Red Sox family and one who will be missed great, Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino said.
"We are saddened by his passing, and on behalf of John Henry, Tom Werner, our partners and our entire organization, we extend our condolences to his loving wife, Velma, his son, Mel Jr., and daughters Barbara, Sheryl, and Patti," Lucchino said in a statement.
Another of Parnell's career highlights came in 1956, when he tossed a no-hitter against the White Sox on July 14 -- the 11th in franchise history and first in the previous 33 seasons. It also was the last no-hitter by a Red Sox lefty until Lester threw his in 2008.
"I was saddened to hear about Mr. Parnell's passing and my sympathies are with his family," Lester said in a statement. "His pitching legacy is one that I have looked to build from in my own career, and it's humbling to know that one of the greatest left-handed pitchers in Red Sox history respected me as player."
Following his retirement in 1956, Parnell spent four seasons as a Minor League manager, including three with the Red Sox from 1961-63. He later announced Red Sox games from 1965-68.
"Mel was a true gentleman," Red Sox vice president and historian Dick Bresciani said in a statement. "And let's remember that in addition to his contributions on the field in the '40s and '50s, he was the color commentator during our 'Impossible Dream' season of 1967. It's unfortunate an elbow injury shortened such a terrific career."
Numerous former teammates also expressed their sadness about Parnell's passing.
"Mel was one of the nicest guys I ever met in baseball, and one of the best left-handers to pitch for the Red Sox and in Fenway Park," former Red Sox pitcher Ike Delock said in a statement. "He always pitched batters inside and believed that was a big reason he was successful. He kept telling the rest of us pitchers we needed to do the same. He was a true gentleman and one of my best friends on the team."
Former outfielder Sam Mele, who also played with Parnell in the Minor Leagues, described Parnell as a "great teammate."
"Mel was a fun-loving guy and quite a competitor. He could really pitch, "Mele said in a statement. "It's a shame he didn't start that 1948 playoff game against Cleveland. He was warming up when the manager [Joe McCarthy] sent someone to the bullpen and said he was switching to Denny Galehouse. I always believed we would have been in the World Series if Mel started. He was really disappointed but didn't say a word."
"Mel made an effort to get to know everybody. He was a real gentleman, a wonderful family man," former teammate Frank Malzone said in a statement. "He really knew how to pitch at Fenway Park. They would say that lefties couldn't pitch at Fenway, but Mel had great success there because he was such a smart pitcher."
Funeral arrangements will be finalized later Wednesday.
Jon Star is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.