Parker wrote a column and was sports editor of The New York Daily Mirror from 1926 until the paper folded in 1963.
Parker often used his column, “Broadway Bugle” to agitate for change in sports. He crusaded against fixed wrestling matches, disreputable “Racetrack touts,” and the influence of organized crime in boxing—these columns led to several investigations, the disbanding of the corrupt International Boxing Club, and several criminal convictions, including Frankie Carbo, a member of the Lucchese crime family.
Parker was also an early crusader for the integration of professional baseball. In 1933, Parker lent his name and influence to The Pittsburgh Courier’s “Crusade for comments from baseball celebrities” who supported integration.
Parker wrote to Chester Washington, The Courier’s sports editor:
“I don’t see why the mere accident of birth should prove a bar to the Negro baseball players who aspire to places in organized baseball. I haven’t heard of any club owners refusing to accept the patronage of colored people. Rutgers didn’t draw any color line when Paul Robeson proved himself the best man for the place he was fighting for on the football team. The All-American selectors didn’t go into a huddle about Paul’s complexion when they picked him for a place on the mythical eleven, football’s highest honor.
“The U.S. Olympic Committee didn’t consider Eddie Tolan’s or Ralph Metcalfe’s lineage when they were picking the strongest sprinting team possible for last summer’s games. If the Negro athlete is accepted without question in college football and amateur track and field events, which are among the higher types of sports, I fail to see why baseball, which is as much a business as it is a sport, should draw the line.
“In my career as a sports writer, I have never encountered a colored athlete who didn’t conduct himself in a gentlemanly manner and who didn’t have a better idea of sportsmanship than many of his white brethren. By all means, let the Negro ballplayer play in organized baseball. As a kid, I saw a half dozen Cuban players break into organized baseball in the old Connecticut League. I refer to players like (Armando) Marsans, (Rafael) Alameda, (Al) Cabrera and others (Almeida, Marsans, and Cabrera played with the New Britain Perfectos in the Connecticut State League in 1910). I recall the storm of protest from the One Hundred Per Centers at that time but I also recall that all the Cubans conducted themselves in such a manner that they reflected nothing but credit on themselves and those who favored admitting them to baseball’s select circle.
“The only possible objection I can find to lifting the color line in baseball is that the Yankees might then lose their great mascot. I refer to my good friend, (Bill) “Bojangles” Robinson, who chased away the Yankee jinx last season with his famous salt-shaker. The Yanks didn’t draw the color line on their World Series special to Chicago for Bill accompanied us on the trip. On the way back, at every town where we stopped for a few minutes, the crowd hollered for Babe Ruth. Babe would make an appearance and then introduce Bojangles who would tell a few stories, go into his dance and make the fans forget about baseball as he ‘shuffled off to Buffalo.’
“I read your paper every week and find your sports pages well edited and thoroughly enjoyable.”
Parker’s letter was released shortly after Heywood Broun of The New York World-Telegram made waves at the 1933 Baseball Writers Association dinner when he said:
“I can see no reason why Negroes should not come into the National and American Leagues.”
Broun and Parker were joined by another prominent sports writer, Gordon Mackay, who had been sports editor at three Philadelphia papers—The Enquirer, The Press and The Public Ledger—who wrote to The Courier:
“I believe that there are scores of Negroes who would make good in the big minors and in the majors. Take some of the men I used to know—John Henry Lloyd, Rube Foster, Big (Louis) Santop, Phil Cockrell, Biz Mackey and others—why, Connie Mack or the Phillies would have been strengthened with any of them on the best teams they ever had.”
The Courier’s Washington was hopeful that the sentiments of three powerful sportswriters would have some impact:
“Fair-minded and impartial writers like Broun, Mackey, and Parker can do much towards breaking down the barricaded doors of opportunity to capable colored ballplayers which lead into the greatest American game’s charmed circle. And we doff our derby to ‘em.”