Last year Parker was one of the major reasons why the Dodgers were in a contending position in the West. In July, however, he had to have his appendix removed, and although he did come back by the middle of August to raise his average above .300, it was obvious that the operation had taken its toll. Nevertheless, he hit .278—his highest average in the majors. Moreover, his 68 RBIs were also far and away the most he had ever managed. This year Parker has had spectacular days at the plate that have shown his power, speed and versatility. In a game against the Mets he hit for the cycle with a single, double, triple and home run. Last Friday against the Expos he singled, doubled and tripled in three times at bat.
He credits Psycho-Cybernetics with helping him most in the areas of relaxation and confidence, the two vital psychological parts of hitting. "I just feel now," he says, "that when I go up to the plate I am going to accomplish something—and I never had that feeling before. I felt that .300 was meant for other players but not for me. It's so much more fun to play baseball when you feel that when you go up to the plate you are going to get a hit."
The circle of athletes now utilizing Psycho-Cybernetics appears to be widening every day. Tennis star Cliff Richey, who won the national clay-courts title Sunday, is perhaps the leading advocate, and Parker is only one of many Dodgers to swear by Dr. Maltz' philosophy. Bill Singer, a 20-game winner in 1969, was reading Creative Living for Today, an application of Psycho-Cybernetics involving "15 valuable mental exercises utilizing self-image psychology" before he won his eighth game of the year last week. In many respects Singer is the medical marvel of sports because many doubted that he would be throwing a baseball at all following an attack of infectious hepatitis which put him on the disabled list for 52 days not long after this season started.
Even now, although recovered sufficiently to play again, Singer is not allowed even one drop of alcohol, one spoonful of ice cream or any fat for a whole year. Nevertheless, three weeks ago Singer pitched a no-hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies, and he has turned in four complete games since his return.
Singer is in the mold of Don Drysdale as a pitcher. Good-looking, tall and a native Californian, he has also been known to throw very close to the hairs of the chinny-chin-chin of opposing batters, and he has often been accused of throwing a pitch which seems wet, drops swiftly and might most appropriately be called a spurve.
His no-hitter was most symbolic of the Dodgers' whole season. The day he pitched it Los Angeles lost half a game on the Reds when they won a double-header. Nevertheless, the Dodgers are not completely frustrated. The farm system is on its way to producing two pennant winners, and no Dodger minor-league team is worse than third place. The Reds have their work cut out for them in the future because there are a lot of Dodger kids ready to come up out of the minors bearing hope and books by Dr. Maxwell Maltz.