Duke's Clarence “Ace” Parker Turns 100

Travis NormandContributor IIIMay 26, 2012

Clarence "Ace" Parker:  Duke University Sports Information
Clarence "Ace" Parker: Duke University Sports Information

According to many historians, College Football was born 142 years ago on November 6, 1869 in New Brunswick, New Jersey.  However, it was only about 42 years later, on May 17, 1912, that one of the games' greatest sons, Clarence "Ace" Parker, was born in Portsmouth, Virginia.

After graduating from high school in 1933, Parker enrolled at Duke where he played football under coach Wallace Wade.  Playing both quarterback and halfback, he lettered during the 1934, '35 and '36 seasons. He also earned All-America honors during both his junior and senior seasons.

During Parker's three years of football at Duke, the Blue Devils went 24-5 and won the Southern Conference championship in 1935 and 1936.  He set school records for rushing yards in a season with 884 yards in 1935 and also set the record for career rushing yards at 1,856.  

Parker didn't stop there—he also set the record for total touchdowns scored in a career at 21 as well as the record for total points in a career at 134. Finally, in 1936, Parker returned a kickoff 105 yards against North Carolina, setting the record for the longest kickoff return in school history.

Obviously, Parker was rightfully inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1955.  After his time at Duke, he enjoyed a remarkable professional career as both a football and baseball player.  

In 1937, while playing baseball for the Philadelphia Athletics, Parker became one of just 111 players to hit a home run during their first at bat. In 1940, while playing for the NFL's Brooklyn Dodgers, Parker was awarded the league's MVP trophy.

Parker enlisted in the Armed Services in 1942, and served for over two years.  A World War II veteran, Parker returned briefly to the NFL and in 1947 he was hired as an assistant football coach for the Duke Blue Devils.  

While serving as an assistant coach from 1947 to 1965, Parker was also Duke's head baseball coach from 1953 to 1966.  Parker's baseball teams at Duke won the Southern Conference championship in 1963, and the Atlantic Coast Conference championship in 1956 and '57.

Of all his accomplishments, Clarence "Ace" Parker added another to his already-impressive list by celebrating his 100th birthday on May 17, 2012.