by Frank Hyde
December 14, 1974
Part 1 of 2
Lyle Parkhurst Pitched To Stan Musial
Lefty Lyle Parkhurst squinted through the bright Alabama sunshine at his Mobile catcher one day in 1946 during an exhibition game against the St. Louis Cardinals. The slender, lefthand hitter who had grounded out against Parkhurst his previous time up, set himself in the batter's box.
"I had a strike on him with a curve," Parky related the other day. "My catcher was calling for another curve ball and I shook him off. He hollered out to me, 'You'll be sorry,' and I was. This guy belted the ball down the right field line. It cleared a fence at 360 feet, crossed a double-lane road, and landed on the 40-foot high roof of a pulley factory."
The batter was Stan Musial, five-time National League batting champion and one of the greatest sluggers of all time.
"Maybe I kind of inspired him," Parkhurst grinned as the one-time Jamestown Falcons pitcher, now a milkman, related the incident. "You see, he won the batting title that year and four times afterwards." Musial has won his first NL swat crown in 1943.
"You'll never guess who from Jamestown saw Musial hit that homer off me," Parky resumed. "It was Howie Wiquist. He was stationed at Mobile in the military."
The late Howie Wiquist was to become athletic director at his alma mater, Jamestown High, a position he held until his death.
Parkhurst, never overpoweringly fast, had good stuff and very passable control plus the heart of a lion.
His was a unique baseball career in that he was signed by Harry Bisgeier, then owner of the Jamestown club, in 1942. Parkhurst, a Jamestown product was only 15 years old at the time. His father, the late Stanley M. Parkhurst, signed for him because he was too young. His mother Beulah, now 85, lives on Crossman Street.
Parkhurst was the youngest pitcher on the old Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York (PONY) League and the following year, when he went to Buffalo, was the youngest to ever hurl for the Bisons in the International League.
Parky, who played junior high school baseball for Coach Harold Rubens and played with a few independent teams before deciding to turn pro, had a 13-7 record with Jamestown in 1942. He worked a lot of relief for Buffalo in '43 but was sent back to Jamestown for seasoning in 1944. That marked his best campaign in pro baseball, a 20-10 record for Manager Ollie Carnegie, whose Falcons were edged out by Lockport in the pennant chase but won the playoffs from Batavia and Lockport in a six-game sweep.
"I felt like a commuter when I was sent back to Buffalo in 1945," Lefty smiled. "I worked a lot of relief up there but I wanted to get to where I could start, so I asked them to return me to Jamestown." The records show he arrived in July and rolled up an astounding string of 11 wins until the end of the season, September 1.
Bisgeier sold his contract to Detroit (which had a working agreement with Jamestown) in 1946 and he wound up at Mobile (a Brooklyn organization) for spring training, where he crossed deliveries with Stan Musial.
After spring training at Mobile, the Jamestown southpaw found himself with Asheville of the Tri-State League, where he played for the '46 and '47. His next stop was Pueblo, CO in'48 where he played on the Western League championship team along with such coming big-leaguers as Clem Labine and Turk Lown.
Parkhurst was unhappy at Pueblo because the club needed him for relief. "Being a relief pitcher was sort of degrading in those days," he explained. "Today they can become heroes since the games saved stats were introduced, but in '48 minor league, relief pitchers were flunkies."
Anyway, 1949 found Parkhurst toiling for Rock Hill of the Tri-State League, an independent club, where he remained two seasons.