Homemade Biscuit – Thompson High product solid in role as closer

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 29, 2004

A good, southern biscuit is hard to find. A good closer is an even tougher find.

Fortunately for the Montgomery Biscuits, the Tampa Bay Devil Ray’s Double-A minor league affiliate, they have found the perfection combination.

Josh Parker, a 23-year-old, 1999 Thompson High School graduate, has found life back in Alabama buttery sweet.

After spending the last few seasons with other Devil Ray affiliates in Charleston, S.C., Bakersfield, Ca., and Orlando, Fla., Parker is glad to be home.

&uot;You couldn’t ask for a better situation than what I’ve got right now,&uot; Parker said.

Parker grew up a Dale Murphy and Frank Thomas fan, dreaming of one day playing as Brave. That dream almost came true, as Parker was drafted by the Braves out of high school but opted to attend college instead.

After playing two years at Wallace-State at Hanceville, Parker was drafted in the 29th round and signed with the Devil Rays.

Ironically, years later, Parker has found himself playing teams like the Birmingham Barons, a team Frank Thomas played for on his way to the Chicago White Sox, and playing at the same stadium his dad took him to when he was a child: the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.

&uot;Coming (to the Hoover Met) when I was a kid, I thought this was the major leagues,&uot; Parker said. &uot;Now, being out here playing, it’s just a good feeling.&uot;

Parker, his wife, Brooke, and their 2-year-old girl, Riley, now reside in Louisville, Ky., but Parker’s parents still live in Calera.

The short drive from Calera to Montgomery, and occasionally to Hoover, makes it easier on Parker’s parents, Charlie and step-mother Denise, to attend his games.

It is easy to see why Parker is so enthused about being close to his parents because when asked who had the greatest influence on his life and his baseball career, he answered &uot;My dad,&uot; saying it three times before reiterating it again, &uot;My dad, hands down,&uot; Parker said.

&uot;My dad was always pushing me and it has ended up paying off.&uot;

Parker’s dad coached him throughout his little league days and even talks with him now about his son’s performance.

&uot;He’s always been there at all my games,&uot; Parker said. &uot;We always talk about the game and he brought me up on the game.&uot;

Parker’s father said his son’s determination is what has gotten him where he is today.

&uot;He was always laid back,&uot; Parker’s father said. &uot;His demeanor was always laid back, but when he crossed those white lines, he was serious.&uot;

One example of Parker’s determination was when he found himself struggling earlier this season.

On a day the Biscuits weren’t playing and had been given off, Parker went to the field to work on some things he felt was holding him back.

&uot;He was doubting himself,&uot; Parker’s father said.

Since that day, Parker has turned around his season and now is tied for fourth in the Southern League with 12 saves.

The Biscuits, in their first year as the Montgomery Double-A affiliate, have not won as many games as they had hoped but Parker knows his save opportunities will increase as the team’s wins increase.

&uot;Hopefully, I can just keep pitching well and the saves, they’ll come once we start winning,&uot; Parker said.

Parker had a chance at a save last weekend, pitching two scoreless innings in the eighth and ninth against the Barons June 27, but was denied a save after the marathon-game went 13 innings. The Biscuits went on to win the game 2-1.

After the game, Biscuits manager Charlie Montoyo acknowledged just how Parker is coming into his own as a closer and how he is fitting into that role.

&uot;He did a good job, he did what we asked him to do, gave us a chance to win the game and he threw two scoreless innings,&uot; Montoyo said.

&uot;He did the job.&uot;

After moving many times over the past two seasons, Parker now has his family, his friends and success all at his fingertips.

While a minor league player’s future location is never certain, Parker knows exactly where his will be next season.

&uot;Pitching,&uot; he said