Two-sport standout knew he would play at UF

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium looks a lot different than when Bernie Parrish played for the Gators.

AARON DAYE/Special to The Sun
Published: Monday, May 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, May 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.


This is the fourth in a 10-part series on Gainesville high school athletes who went on to earn accolades at the University of Florida. In part four, Sun sports writer Pat Dooley takes a look at BERNIE PARRISH

As a multi-sport star at P.K. Yonge, Bernie Parrish always knew where he wanted to play sports.
"I grew up to play for the Gators," he said. "I snuck into games to see J. Papa Hall and Rick Casares play. So I did play for the Gators in spite of the Gators."
Despite being part of a Blue Wave football team that won 17 straight games and being the MVP of the North-South basketball game, Parrish was not offered a scholarship. But after walking on to play baseball for Dave Fuller at UF, Parrish was told that he could receive a scholarship if he played well in a South Carolina summer league.
He was named the league MVP, but when he returned to Gainesville Parrish was told he'd have to make the football team to receive a scholarship. He did and went on to be a two-way player who played almost every down in 1957 and '58, voted by SEC coaches as the league's best tackler and best blocker.
Parrish also continued to play baseball, hitting .436 in 1958 while being named All-SEC.
"Playing baseball and football and getting my degree, that was the hardest thing I ever did," he said.
He signed with the Cincinnati Reds with a year of football eligibility remaining and lasted two years in the organization before switching sports.
Parrish went to Cleveland where he played for eight seasons for the Browns.
After the NFL, Parrish started his own construction business. Based in St. Louis, his company built hotels, housing and medical buildings for the military. He recently retired to Gainesville.
-Pat Dooley

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