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19 Jack Parkinson

Jack Parkinson
Hometown (Last School)
Yorktown, IN (High)
1943-44, 1944-45, 1945-46, 1947-48
March 4, 1924

Obituary – 1946 UK BASKETBALL ALL-AMERICAN JACK PARKINSON DIES AT AGE 73, Lexington Herald-Leader (May 31, 1997) by Jennifer Hewlett

Jack Parkinson, a 1946 University of Kentucky basketball All-American who found himself sitting on the bench two years later, in the shadow of UK’s famous Fabulous Five, died Thursday. Mr. Parkinson, 73, died of complications from a brain tumor at Yorktown Health Care Center in Yorktown, Ind.

The Yorktown native turned down a contract offer from the Cincinnati Reds to play basketball for legendary UK basketball coach Adolph Rupp. Mr. Parkinson, who lettered in basketball at UK in 1944, 1945, 1946 and 1948, was captain of UK’s 1946 National Invitational Tournament championship team. He was All-Southeastern Conference in 1944, 1945 and 1946. He was 6-feet tall and played guard.

“He was one of the best two-hand set shots . . . He would take two steps beyond the center line and bomb away. That was his trademark,” said former UK sports information head Russell Rice. “He wasn’t a real flashy player. He was sort of a blue-collar player. He got the job done,” Rice said.

“He was a good ball player. He was a shooter. He could hit that basket,” said former UK teammate Cliff Barker, who also is from Yorktown. “He was a tremendous shooter.”

Mr. Parkinson left UK after the 1946 season to enter the Army. He returned after an 11-month military stint, but by that time UK had other outstanding players, some of whom had returned from World War II.

Mr. Parkinson, who was a consensus All-American in 1946, was a substitute most of the time during the 1947-48 season, watching Alex Groza, Ralph Beard, Cliff Barker, Kenny Rollins and Wallace “Wah Wah” Jones grab the glory. They became known as the Fabulous Five, one of UK’s most famous teams, and they led UK to its first National Collegiate Athletic Association championship in 1948.

“I think being gone that year, he just lost a little bit. Also that was just a tremendous group of players. (There was) nothing to be ashamed about,” said Mr. Parkinson’s son, Bruce G. Parkinson, himself a Purdue University basketball All-American.

If sitting on the bench bothered Mr. Parkinson, he never said so, his son said.

“He just appreciated all those guys. He knew they were special . . . Dad never had much of an ego.”

Said Rice: “He was at the right place at the right time, during the war years. After he got out of the service, he was at the right place at the wrong time.”

Mr. Parkinson lettered in basketball and baseball all four years at Yorktown High School. He led Delaware County, Ind., in scoring in basketball in 1942. He was a .500 hitter for the Yorktown baseball team and pitched a no-hit game in a 1942 county championship match.

“A lot of people didn’t know how good he was in baseball,” his son said.

After his career at Kentucky, Mr. Parkinson was a pitcher-manager for a Middlesboro semi-professional baseball team. He played with the Whiskered Wizards basketball team of St. Augustine, Fla., and with the Toledo Mercurys, who traveled with the Harlem Globetrotters.

Mr. Parkinson returned to his hometown and became a partner in a wholesale plumbing and heating supply business in Muncie, Ind. He served on the Mount Pleasant Township Community School Board in Yorktown.

He was a member of the Delaware County Athletic Hall of Fame and Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

In addition to his son, Mr. Parkinson is survived by two grandsons.

Services will be at 1 p.m. today at Gant-Richman Funeral Home in Yorktown.

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