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Clarence “Ace” Parker, a star of New York City football in the 1940s and the only Pro Football Hall of Fame member to reach 100, has died. He was 101.
He died Wednesday day, according to the Canton, Ohio-based Hall of Fame, which didn’t provide details. NBC Sports said he was the oldest living former National Football League player.
In a career interrupted by World War II, Parker starred as quarterback for the Brooklyn Dodgers and Boston Yanks of the NFL and the New York Yankees of the All-America Football Conference. He was named NFL Most Valuable Player in 1940, when he led the Dodgers on offense and defense to a second-place finish in the Eastern Division. In his final season, 1946, he led the Yankees to a division title.
An all-around athlete, he played basketball at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and professional baseball for two seasons with the Philadelphia Athletics.
He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972.
“There was no thought in my mind of ever being put in the Hall of Fame of professional football,” he said in his induction speech. “In the first place, I always thought I was too small. I weighed 168 pounds and was” five feet, 10 inches tall. “So, I couldn’t compare with the others, so I just thought I would be passed over, but since I was selected I want to say that I’m sure glad it happened while I’m still here.”
Stephen Perry, president of the Hall of Fame, said in a statement Wednesday, “We reflect on a full life lived and will forever remember the football legacy created by Ace Parker.”
Clarence McKay Parker was born on May 17, 1912, in Portsmouth, Va., according to the Hall of Fame.
He was picked by the Dodgers in the NFL’s second-ever draft, in 1937, and joined the team after playing baseball with the Athletics.
In a Dodgers win over the Cleveland Rams on Nov. 17, 1940, Parker had a hand in all 29 of his team’s points. He ran back an interception for a touchdown, threw two touchdown passes, served as holder for a successful field goal, set up a touchdown with a second interception and kicked two extra points.
According to the Hall of Fame, “Parker eventually left the game after he twisted his leg, the same one he had earlier injured in baseball. He received a loud ovation as he limped to the sidelines.”