A couple of days ago we were delighted to receive a valuable update on the life of an important figure in the athletic heritage of the Silver People of Panama. We mentioned Jonathan “Clyde” Parris briefly in our article, “Baseball’s Roots in Panama.” Thanks to Nick Diunte over at Yournabe.com we were treated to a newer and more personal look at the life and times of this extraordinary baseball player and all around athlete.
According to Diunte, who interviewed him in his Springfield Gardens, Queens, home, “Clyde” Parris- he was known as Clyde París amongst the people in Panama- is one of the last living links to Baseball’s Negro League. At age 89 Mr. Parris who was born in Panama, is now a retired citizen and quietly resides in his home. Among his greater attainments he played for the Baltimore Elite Giants and New York Black Yankees of the Negro National League back in the 1940’s. He would later be accepted into the Dodger organization and reach a Triple-A rating within their Montreal farm club- which was a travesty because he was a true professional baseball player.
Among some of his career highlights was his encounter with the pitching giant Satchel Paige, and how he “clouted a home run off the famed hurler.” He also recalls his experiences with legendary figures like Josh Gibson whom he encountered during Gibson’s fading moments from the Negro League.
Probably the most interesting details of Clyde Parris’ life, however, are related in Nick Diunte’s article with regard to his introduction to the “harsh realities” of Jim Crow in the United States. It reminded me of my first real life encounters with the nefarious and implacable system of racial discrimination in the United States as I was introduced to it in the late 1950’s when I migrated north.
Although I had seen the Silver and Gold Roll at work in the Panama Canal Zone, I often felt insulated somewhat from it here in my Panama. We had our own brand of racial discrimination to contend with but, somehow, it just didn’t seem as all pervading as what I encountered in the United States.
I encourage you to read about his personal experiences from the standpoint of an up and coming baseball player with the Negro League who would eventually be kept out of the major leagues more due to racism than to his amazing prowess. All who knew him, players, managers and experts alike, knew that his skill was unreservedly top shelf even for the major leagues. You can read the full article here and check out Nick’s other links regarding Clyde Parris.
More importantly Nick has asked us to announce to our readers that he is doing an autograph signing on March 5, 2011 with the famed Mr. Parris. “The money raised,” he says, “will go directly to Clyde, as he was really denied a full opportunity to play in the major leagues because of his color.” You can find out the details of the autograph signing here, including shipping costs if you cannot be in the U.S. It is a grand opportunity for baseball enthusiasts and historians to honor the true person of the great Clyde Parris, a living legend and one of the descendants of The Silver People of Panama.
We of the Silver People Heritage Foundation will be ordering an autographed photo of the honoree and we strongly suggest to all our readers to do the same.
This story continues.
14 April 2011—-We received the Photo of “Clyde” Parris!!
This is an important update to this article honoring Mr. Parris. We finally received the photo in the mail after waiting for it for over two weeks. But, this is to be expected, although Panama’s postal system has improved a lot and has been speedier, we believe the delay was in the U.S. postal system. It never used to take so long to come from the States.
We are just glad to let our readers know and to encourage everyone to purchase a photo or a signed baseball from Mr. Parris. Keep our heritage alive.
C. Roberto Reid