A tribute to the late Hal Parker

Published 12:14 pm Saturday, May 7, 2011

On Saturday the late Hal Parker’s family and friends gathered at the Susiegray McConnell Sports Complex as the Washington Junior Babe Ruth league dedicated its opening day to Parker, who coached his son Austin’s little league teams. Pictured above (from left) is Hal’s brothers Buddy, George, father C.J., son Austin (background), wife Emily and brothers Alton and Roy. (WDN Photo/Brian Haines)

On Saturday the man who always wanted to be in the background took center stage as the Washington Junior Babe Ruth League dedicated its opening day to the late Hal Parker.

Parker passed away a year ago at the age of 50 and is survived by his wife Emily and 15-year old son Austin, who attends Washington High School and plays on the PCS 13-15-year old baseball team.

Parker, a commercial fisherman, began coaching baseball after Austin grew fond of it and never looked back.

“Ever since his son seemed to have a knack for playing ball and got interested in it, that’s when Hal got involved,”  said Hal’s brother Alton, who was accompanied by fellow brothers Buddy, George and Roy, along with Emily and Hal’s father C.J. “Ever since (Austin) was big enough to walk he played ball and he became a pretty good player. Hal stuck with him the whole time … He was a behind the scenes guy, he didn’t want any credit, but he enjoyed every second of it.”

On Saturday, the baseball community stuck with Hal as they gathered at Field Six of the Susiegray McConnell Sports Complex Saturday morning and held a touching pregame ceremony before Hal’s brother Roy threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Buddy.

“I think this (ceremony) is phenomenal, he deserves every bit of recognition,” Roy said. “He was a shy guy but he would do anything in the world to help you. He took care of everybody.”

On Saturday every mention of Hal was quickly followed by how much he not only looked out for his family, but everyone around him.

“Hal was a very caring person and a very dependable person,” Buddy said. “He lived next door to his dad and you knew Hal was always looking after him. That’s the kind of person he was, that was his personality. He loved to help people.”

Buddy said he that the opening day ceremony was a touching tribute to his brother.

“I just think it’s so nice that they honored Hal today,” Buddy said. “He touched a lot of young people in this sport and he enjoyed doing it. He enjoyed watching his son Austin play and he enjoyed coaching all these kids, it meant a lot to him.”

Outside of family, they say neighbors are the ones that know you best. When Hal passed away his neighbor the Reverend Charles M. Smith of the United Methodist Church said the following at Hal’s funeral:

Living all the time next door to someone gives you an up close and personal look, which is sometimes good, and can be bad, depending on the next door neighbor. But, living close by Hal and his family made us love them even more. Whenever high wind and water threatened, we turned to Hal for the best word on just how seriously we should prepare and maybe even evacuate … Waterman, weatherman, watchman, Hal could be trusted. He’d know the right thing to do. He’d look after you and your stuff, but that’s only a small part of how we leaned on him.