SPORTS & RECREATION

Cobra: A Life of Baseball and Brotherhood

Univ. of Nebraska Apr. 2021. 480p. ISBN 9781496218735. $34.95. SPORTS
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The six divisional titles, two World Series championships, and nine winning seasons the Pirates brought Pittsburgh in the 1970s marked an era of success the organization hadn't seen before and hasn't approached since. Right-fielder Parker was along for most of the ride, but as he recounts early in his autobiography (cowritten with sportswriter Jordan), his baseball career almost didn't happen: a star athlete in high school, Parker intended to be a running back for Ohio State when a knee injury derailed his football dreams. After being implicated in 1985 in the infamous Pittsburgh drug trials, he bounced back with his hometown Cincinnati Reds, but his reputation had taken a serious hit. Parker discusses all the unfairness and bigotry he faced as a Black baseball player in the 1970s and 1980s, but he more often chooses to focus on the good: the comradery he found with teammates like Willie Stargell, the countless accolades he collected, and the steep odds he overcame. 
VERDICT Parker has a deep collection of stories and he tells them in a way that puts readers right in the thick of it all, from play-by-plays of the biggest playoff games to the brash and freewheeling banter that was always on tap in the Pirates' clubhouse.  
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