The Red Sox signed young left-hander Mel Parnell from New Orleans in 1941, after club scouts were alerted to Parnell during a trip to Louisiana. They watched the skinny kid strike out 17 hitters and eventually signed him.
That effort came in just the fifth game he had ever pitched, according to the Society for American Baseball Research. Parnell eventually grew into his 6-foot frame and after a delay while he served in the Army Air Corps during World War II, Parnell made the opening day roster for the Red Sox in 1947.
Parnell struggled in that first stint, eventually being sent back to Louisville before breaking his finger and ending a tough year.
He landed in the bigs for good the following year, earning a full-time spot in the rotation and setting the stage for a big breakout.
Parnell led the American League in 1949 with 25 wins, a 2.77 ERA, 27 complete games and 295.1 innings, while also topping the circuit with a ratio of 0.2 home runs per nine innings, allowing just eight long balls.
He earned the first of his two All-Star appearances and was fourth in the MVP voting, as Boston fell just short of the American League pennant.
Parnell won 20 games again in 1953, but his career nosedived after he was hit by a pitch by former teammate Mickey McDermott, breaking a bone in his left wrist.
Rushed back into action by manager Lou Boudreau, Parnell’s arm and curveball were never quite the same. His career ended after the 1956 season when he had an operation to repair a torn nerve in his elbow.
In 10 seasons, Parnell was 123-75 with a 3.50 ERA and 1.411 WHIP in 289 games, 232 starts and 1,752.2 innings, with 732 strikeouts and an ERA+ of 125.
Parnell managed for while before getting into broadcasting. He would settle in his native New Orleans for the rest of his life, banking a deal with Chrysler that allowed the automaker to use his name on a dealership and starting a pest-control service.
His later years were maked by health problems and he lost his home and two others he owned to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He would eventually fall to cancer on March 20, 2012 at the age of 89.