Dave Parker: Parkinson's Doesn't Scare Pittsburgh Pirates Legend

Image: Dave Parker: Parkinson's Doesn't Scare Pittsburgh Pirates Legend

Wednesday, 07 Aug 2013 08:19 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Pittsburgh Pirates great Dave Parker, 62, has Parkinson's disease but up until now had only informed a few close friends.

The two-time batting champion who led his team to the World Series title in 1979 opened up about his condition for the first time to the public in an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

His condition was first diagnosed in February 2012.

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"There's no fear. I've had a great life. I always dreamt of playing baseball, and I played," Parker told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

"I'm 62 years old and fortunate to make it to this point," Parker added. "I have some beautiful kids that I got to watch grow up and become adults. My fingerprints are on the baseball industry. I feel good about that. I have nothing to feel bad about."

The disease has not progressed rapidly according to Parker, who added that the Parkinson's initially manifested with a tremor in his right hand.

Despite his confidence in his ability to battle the debilitating disease, Parker admitted to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he's "nervous with public speaking, being put in any situation where I have to talk for a long time."

Rather than taking medication, fearing the side effects might worsen his developing symptoms, Parker says he is currently opting for what he terms "natural" remedies, the Pittsburgh paper reported.

"If push comes to shove, I'll take the medicine. [But] for now, I'm taking it day by day," Parker added.

One of the first friends Parker shared the diagnosis with was Pirates' Director of Alumni Affairs Joe Billetdeaux.

"He looked good," Billetdeaux said. "He said he has good days and bad days. For the most part, he's dealing with it."

According to Billetdeaux, the only change he observed was that Parker sounded a bit more sluggish over the phone.

Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder that affects the central nervous system and gradually deteriorates one's coordination skills, affecting their ability to walk and move overall. Common symptoms associated with the disease include shaking, rigidity, and slowness of movement.

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Most cases of Parkinson's disease occur in people over 50 years of age.

Parker presently lives in Loveland, Ohio, with his wife, Kellye. He has six grown children.

The former Pirates' star says the couple plans to eventually sell their house and relocate to Florida in the coming years.

Related stories:

Michael J. Fox Finds Humor in Parkinson's Battle

Stopping Cholesterol Drugs May Lead to Parkinson's: Study

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