Born May 17, 1912, in Portsmouth, Va., Parker attended Wilson High School, earning 16 varsity letters in 5 sports: football, basketball, baseball, track and golf.
He enrolled at Duke University, and he quickly established himself as one of the most versatile stars to ever set foot on the college gridiron, playing quarterback, halfback, wide receiver, punter, kicker, safety while also returning punts and kickoffs. His athletic prowess extended to Blue Devil basketball and baseball teams as well.
Playing for Hall of Fame coach Wallace Wade, Parker led he Blue Devils football team to a 24-5 record and two Southern Conference Championships during his career. In 1935, he averaged 7.4 yards rushing while punting for an average of 46.7 yards. During his 1936 All-American season, he averaged 5.8 yards for a total of 647 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns. That season he recorded a 70-yard punt return against North Carolina State and a 105-yard kickoff return against North Carolina, which remains a Duke school record. His punting average was 42.2, including 11 punts that went out of bounds inside the 10-yard line. His outstanding career led to his election to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1955.
Parker went on to a pro career in two sports. He played 94 games as a shortstop for the Philadelphia Athletics from 1937-38. He played pro football for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1937-41, earning MVP honors in 1940 and taking part in the first-ever televised football game in 1939.
After serving as a lieutenant for three years in the Navy during World War II, he returned to football for two more seasons, playing for the Boston Yanks in 1945 and the New York Yankees in 1946. His career earned him enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972.
After his playing days, Parker returned to Duke as an assistant football coach from 1948-66 while also serving as the school’s head baseball coach from 1953-66. During that time, he was a player-manager for the Durham Bulls semi-pro baseball team from 1949-52. He went on to serve as a scout in the NFL before retiring to his home state of Virginia. Parker's wife of 67 years, Thelma, died in 2009. Parker passed away Nov. 6, 2013, at the age of 101.
To read more about the life of Ace Parker, click here