Brownsville high school star Parker to enter Hall

The wait is over.

Frank Parker Sr., one of Brownsville’s top all-time high school athletes who earned nine letters playing sports before graduating from Brownsville High in 1947, has patiently bided his time for a number of years and hoped he would someday gain induction into the Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame.

That day has arrived for the 90-year-old Brownsville resident and former well-known local businessman.

Parker and eight others, including two posthumously, are scheduled to be inducted today at the RGV Sports Hall of Fame’s 32nd annual banquet at Pharr Events Center.

The event begins with dinner at 5 p.m., scholarship presentations at 5:30 p.m. and the program at 6 p.m. An informal reception for the inductees is scheduled at 4 p.m.

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Parker earned his nine letters at Brownsville High by playing football and basketball in addition to running the open quarter mile in track. A two-way starter at center and linebacker in football, Parker stood 6-foot-1 and weighed 180 pounds. As a senior for the Golden Eagles, Parker, an all-state center, was selected to play in the 1947 North-South All-Star Game in El Paso.

Football became the sport that enabled Parker to earn a scholarship to play for the Texas Longhorns during the late 1940s.

Parker said he is grateful to all those who have remembered him as a standout football player.

“I’m very proud and pleased to be inducted,” he said. “The experience is quite surprising and humbling. There are so many people to thank for all the help I got (as an athlete) — my family, my teammates and my coaches.

“I feel very honored,” he added. “Playing sports has been an influence and a very big part of my life. I’m a competitive person, and I always want to be first. I don’t think that’s selfish. Getting this honor is something all athletes strive for. It’s nice to be recognized for one’s efforts. It’s very thoughtful of them to do this.”

Parker played on the Eagles’ varsity football team for three seasons and started his junior and senior years in 1945 and 1946. The Eagles won the District 16-2A championship when he was a junior, finishing with a 10-1 record under coach Bob Martin, previously the coach for Tom Landry at Mission High in 1941. When Parker was a senior in 1946, the Eagles went 6-4 and tied Edinburg High for the district title. The Eagles missed the playoffs that year due to a 32-12 loss to the Bobcats.

After graduation from Brownsville High, it was on to Austin to play for the Longhorns. Parker started at center and linebacker for the Texas freshman team and made the varsity travel squad as a sophomore, getting some playing time at the end of several varsity games.

Just when it appeared Parker might have a chance to play more as a junior on the UT varsity, he was injured on a crackback block early during the 1949 season and never fully recovered. He eventually had multiple surgeries on his knee.

When his football career came to a close, a promising business career was just ahead. Parker graduated from UT with a business administration degree in 1951, returned to Brownsville and began to work in the stevedore business at the Port of Brownsville.

He married wife Carolyn in 1956 and the couple had six children, including Frank Parker Jr., who operated a customs business in Brownsville. The elder Parker owned Gateway Harbor Tugboat Co. for 15 years before selling the business in 1998 and opting for retirement.

Parker has always had great admiration for Martin from his high school days. Parker remembers him as a disciplinarian-type of coach who had the habit of calling the players’ homes at 10 p.m. on random nights to check on them.

Parker also remembers the words of Martin, who said, “Play the best you can, be the best you can, and if you get knocked down, always get back up.”