Positions: lf, rf, cf, 1b, p, manager
Teams: Birmingham Black Barons (1926-1928), Houston Black Buffaloes (1932), Monroe Monarchs (1932), New Orleans Crescent Stars (1933-1934), Nashville Elite Giants (1934), Columbus Elite Giants (1935), Philadelphia Stars (1936-1943), Santo Domingo (1937), New York Black Yankees (1937), Pittsburgh Crawfords (1946), New York Cuban Stars, Houston Eagles (1950)
Height: 5' 10'' Weight: 180
Underpublicized because he spent much of his career in the South, he was a good, all-around ballplayer who could do everything. A right-handed hitter who hit for average and with occasional power, he also had a good eye at the plate and was a good bunter. Although not gifted with exceptional speed, he was a good base runner. He was a dependable fielder with good hands and range but with only an average arm. A valuable and well-traveled player, he appeared twice in the East-West All Star game, in 1934 with the West squad and in 1939 with the East squad. In each contest he played left field but failed to hit safely in either contest.
A native of Austin, Texas, he began his professional career in the Lone Star State but joined the Birmingham Black Barons in 1927, where he played right field and hit third in the batting order. He contributed a .426 average as the Black Barons won the second-half title before being swept by the Chicago American Giants in the Negro National League championship playoffs.
In 1928 he followed with a .326 batting average, and by 1932 he was the playing manager for the Houston Black Buffaloes in the Texas-Oklahoma League. He also played with the New Orleans Crescent Stars for a season before rejoining the Negro National League. In 1934 he joined Tom Wilson's Nashville Elites, earning his first trip to the All Star game for his performance. When the franchise moved to Columbus in 1935, he is credited with a .257 batting average after the relocation.
He joined the Philadelphia Stars in 1936, batting .310 in his first year with the team. But in 1937 he jumped the Stars in mid-June to play in Santo Domingo with the Aquilas Cibaenas ballclub in an effort to overtake Satchel Paige's Ciudad Trujillo team. But despite Parnell's .283 batting average, they finished second to the Trujillo club. In 1938 he returned to the Stars and hit .324 and .304, successively, and earned his second All Star appearance the latter year.
Parnell was a smart ballplayer and started the 1940 season as manager, but was replaced by Jake Dunn in June. He remained with the Stars as a player, usually hitting second in the batting order, and posted marks of .273, .248, .278, and .311 for the seasons 1940-1943. He played for eighteen years despite an excessive drinking problem, and after leaving the Stars he eventually returned to Houston, at the helm of the Houston Eagles, in 1950.
Source: James A. Riley, The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1994.