Jonathan “Clyde” Parris- We Meet Again!

Here is Clyde today in his Queens home. Both photos are thanks to Nicholas Diunte.

Here is Clyde Parris back in 1959.

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

9 Responses to Jonathan “Clyde” Parris- We Meet Again!

  1. I had the fortune of seeing Clyde play in Red Tank. His was truly a “golden glove.” Glad to have this update on him and his will always be a memory to cherish.

  2. I am glad that someone could dig into this terrific ballplayer.
    I can remember Clyde Parris playing with Chesterfield and hitting those long bombs to left, right and center field. He never got to the Dodgers because Billy Cox was there.

    • Mr. Emmett,

      I concur because even Jackie Robinson whom we rooted for all the time couldn’t produce most of the time like our Clyde Parris. You know now the results of the Dodgers’ organization since they had to move out of Ebbets Field to California and even then they haven’t won too many World Series. So, you are correct about the incomparable Clyde Parris.

  3. I remember as a little boy in Panama seeing ballplayers getting home from work on the Canal Zone and then running to get into their ballplayer’s uniforms and quickly get to the ball field – the Juan Demostenes Arosemena Stadium (The Olympic Stadium). Then we would sneak into the games and see the same boys that I had seen hurrying to get into their ballplayer’s outfits poised at their positions on the field playing as if they’d been there all day. These are the kinds of things people don’t know about and we who did tend to forget. These were the great sacrifices of these legendary athletes from the ranks of the Silver People.

  4. Roderick (eric) Waldron

    What memorable days,especially when he played in Colon Stadium: We used to climb the outfield wall just to see him, and others like Leon Kellman and Bing-Bing Austin,Vibert Clarke, Humberto Robinson, but Clyde was the best hitter. May he continue to be blessed.

    • Eric,

      I recall Bib-Bin Austin got his name because he used to get out on the field (short stop I believe) and start making this whistling sound much like the little birds people here in Panama call the “Bib-Bin.” He was also quite a presence for us the Westindian kids.

  5. Clyde was the only veteran that took the time to teach us young players the game. Clyde still looks like he could hit any pitcher today.
    You also need to write about Dave Roberts and Bobby Prescott.
    Ken

  6. Ken,

    It’s good to see you here again! We have several profiles of our Silver People Heritage athletes in the works. Bobby Prescott is one of them. He is, BTW, living in Panama but things aren’t always as easy and as automatic as they may seem to our readers.

    We are often dealing with older adults who need to be approached with a lot of respect and patience and also their families are often very protective of them. So, please hang in there and stand by. We should be completing a profile on Bobby Prescott soon.

    We ask any of our readers if they have personal anecdotes regarding any of our star athletes or artists, to please share them with us.

    RR

  7. My buddy Dave Roberts’ book is named Baseball Oddysey. Check it out on Line. Very interesting

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