Parker Duke: a kindred spirit

Published 8:03 pm Tuesday, July 2, 2013

By Steve Stewart

Parker Duke is my kind of kid.

That would be true even if he weren’t a baseball fan.


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When my wife and I bought our Suffolk home recently from Parker’s mom, Nicole, Parker left behind his basketball goal, perfectly adjusted to 8 feet high, which is the only way this old man stands a chance of dunking. Several cool items conveyed with the house, including Eley Duke’s beer fridge, but the basketball goal was unexpected. I keep thinking Parker will be back to claim it, in which case we might just shoot some hoops together.

And talk baseball.

If you saw Titus Mohler’s story about Parker on last Wednesday’s sports page, you know that the 7-year-old Suffolk boy eats, sleeps and breathes baseball — the Baltimore Orioles, specifically. Reading the story stirred memories of my own childhood obsession with the sport.

We didn’t get every game on television in those days, but, like Parker, my first priority every morning was to find out how my team, the Cincinnati Reds, did the night before. Many years before Al Gore invented the Internet, that meant devouring box scores in the morning newspaper. Pete Rose was my Adam Jones.

Technology has allowed Parker to take his baseball passion to a level I never would have dreamt possible in the mid-1970s.

Via a homemade video, Parker challenged Jones, the Orioles’ star centerfielder, to a doughnut-eating contest.

It was voted the best of some 50 submissions to the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network. Jones himself picked the three finalists before fans chose the winner by Facebook balloting.

Sometime after Major League Baseball’s All-Star Break, Parker will visit Baltimore and chow down on doughnuts with Jones in a contest to see who can eat the most. Then he’ll pal around with Jones for an hour or so and take home some signed memorabilia to preserve the memory for a lifetime.

I feel sorry for Parker’s classmates next time his teacher has show-and-tell. It would be tough to top Parker Duke on the cool scale.

Steve Stewart is publisher of the Suffolk News-Herald. His email address is