‘Remembering a Legend: Colorful stories about ‘Bimmy’ Parker can go on and on

Published 7:32 am Monday, March 11, 2024

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By Brian Pitts

Davie Enterprise Record

This is a farewell story with facts and fictional “facts.” Good luck distinguishing between the two. Buckle up because we’re going for a ride down Memory Lane to look back on one of Cooleemee’s greatest. And his name is prounced “Buy Me.”

When Grimes “Bimmy” Parker Jr. was born on May 10, 1945 in Rowan County, he drove his mother Hazel home.

A tornado ripped through Cooleemee in the late 1950s. Bimmy and his buddies were out messing around. Bimmy wasn’t in a hurry to get home because the tornado was named Bimmy.

When Bimmy went down to Woodleaf Lanes, he bowled a strike with a tennis ball.

Bimmy brought two socks to a card game – one with money in it and one with a sawed-off shotgun.

Bimmy played football, basketball and baseball. He starred in all three, and when he played pool, he could sink the 8-ball on the break.

Coach Parker didn’t worry about effort from his players. They were scared to death not to play hard.

Everyone has seen the glare. Coach Parker beat Mt. Rushmore in a staring contest.

Bimmy did not sleep the night before a game; he waited.


Bimmy was full of contrasts, a mixture of intensity and humor and sternness and kindness and wisdom.

He spent hours in his garden growing tomatoes, but he ate nails for lunch.

Bimmy was tough as you-know-what, but he’d walk next door to tie Jan Coleman’s shoes after her mother Pat Jordan passed away.

Coach Parker was gruff and charming. He gave swim lessons at the Cooleemee Pool, and there’s no telling how many ladies considered faking a drowning to get his attention.

You were automatically one of his if you were from Cooleemee, but he let “outsiders” into his home – I saw this firsthand – and treated them like family.

Bimmy was big and tough, but also a softie. He had a blast coaching girls softball late in his career.

Bimmy was a jokester, but he was all business between the lines. Matt Marion thought he was a goner when Coach Parker stormed out the door firing a track starter gun before baseball practice.

Bimmy meant what he said and said what he meant. The first time he saw Fran Logan, a stunning 18-year-old from Clearwater, Fla., he said he was gonna marry that girl – and he did just that in 1969.

Bimmy could be intimidating – heck, his own son Steven was afraid to cross him, while Alicia was the epitome of a daddy’s girl – and then a doting grandfather.

Bimmy enjoyed drinking beer with the boys in his twenties, but he was a father/role model drinking milk in his thirties.

Bimmy was quiet but outgoing. He was a straight shooter, but measured his words carefully.

Bimmy was a beast of a man and a teddy bear.

Coach Parker retired 26 years ago, but he was sort of a coach til his death. Once you played on his team, he was your coach for life.

Coach Parker hated to lose, but he lost gracefully with no excuses.

Coach Parker mostly won because his teams were prepared, disciplined and had his swagger. If he had you outmanned – like most of his South Davie football teams in the 1980s – you had no chance because he wasn’t going to screw it up. In games that could go either way, the Tigers knew Coach Parker would figure something out.

In 1987, North Davie carried a 3-0 record to South, and the Wildcats were dying to finally beat the mighty Tigers. It was 0-0 in the fourth quarter and overtime looked likely. But Coach Parker saved his favorite trick play – a reverse to receiver Allan Chapman – for third-and-goal from the 11 with only 1:32 remaining. Chapman walked into the end zone and South won 8-0. It was a soul-crushing loss for the Wildcats, who never recovered.

North coach Sam Beck was steamed and called a rare Saturday practice. It wound up compounding the situation. Three starters – running backs Owen Freuler and Robin Campbell and lineman Brian Foster – broke their collarbones within an hour. Now the Wildcats were being held together by duct tape and hope and they finished 3-4.

Bimmy was proud of his era, cherished his teammates and could talk all day about 1962-63, but he kept individual accomplishments to himself.

Gary Blalock was a handful as a kid. Coach Parker became his father figure, taught him to walk a straight and narrow path and now Blalock preaches at Shining Light Baptist Church in Greensboro.

Coach Parker was short and to the point and brutally honest. Jason McCray didn’t like a strike and muttered something to the ump. Coach Parker came storming down the line; McCray thought he was about to get chewed out. Coach Parker blew past McCray and told the ump, “Get it up!” and walked right back to the third-base box.

Coach Parker couldn’t have told you his career record. His legacy was much bigger than wins and losses; part of it was being a badass leader who knew how to motivate kids and keep them in line.

Jesse “Bubba” Coleman was cuttin’ up and threw Coach Parker’s tomatoes off his house while the Parkers were on vacation. Andy Everhardt got distracted and got picked off first. Britt Osborne missed the cutoff man and hit Coach Parker square in the back. Coach Parker gave them all verbal hits and verbal hugs.

Coach Parker was not partial, even if you lived next-door and rode with him to and from school. As a seventh grader at South Davie Junior High, Bubba played left field but did not bat all year.

Coach Parker called David Streit’s pitches for three years. Streit decided to shake him off one time and Coach Parker yelled “Time!” He met Streit at the foul line and said: “What in the blueberries are you doing shaking me off!? If you shake me off another time, you’ll be sitting over there on the bench beside Stacey Chaffin.”


Bimmy (no one knows exactly how he got the nickname) was impossibly talented at sports.

“In my opinion, he’s the best all-around athlete that Davie’s ever hard,” said Ken Boger, who played catcher for Davie. “I think he would have had a future in professional baseball had he wanted to go that route.”

“He was unbelievable (in baseball),” Roger Pierce said. “Bimmy could do it all. I haven’t seen anybody who could come close to him – not all-around.”

The late Jack Ward was his football coach at Davie.

“He always had that keen competitive look in his eye,” Ward said in 2004. “He was quiet. He’s not one of those fellas that’s going to be real colorful or real pretty, but he’s going to beat you. You wouldn’t really know he was around until the game started. He didn’t do a lot of things to put attention on himself. But when the ball went up on the kickoff, whatever he could do to beat you, that’s what he was going to do.

“At 16 and 17, Bimmy was mature, quiet and resolved. He was intense and focussed about what we were going to do at 8 o’clock. You didn’t have to look over your shoulder and see what Bimmy was doing. Was he getting ready? Was he doing this? Was he doing that? He was thinking about whippin’ you.”

John Parker, a pro pitcher for seven years, cost his older brother a perfect game by making an error on a routine play at first base.

“I stayed away from him for days,” John said in 2004. “I knew what was coming. I had to sleep in the same room with him. It was either at the locker room, getting embarrassed in front of them guys, or standing toe to toe at the house. It was tough growing up with him. He hated to lose. Losing hurt him and we used to fight a lot. He just wasn’t a loser. Nobody likes to lose, but he just took it to heart.”

George Daywalt was Bimmy’s Legion catcher for three years.

“Bimmy was a hard-core athlete,” Daywalt said. “He’d give everything he had.”

Bimmy grew up on Davie Street and raised his family on Duke Street. He never left Cooleemee and made staying around the house cool.

“On Saturdays and Sundays, if we played at 5 o’clock in the evening, we’d have our suits on at 9 o’clock in the morning,” Bimmy said. “If it rained, we’d just about cry because we wanted to play ball so bad. We’d all go up behind the old school with a stick and a tennis ball. We’d throw that ball as hard as we could against the brick.”

In the late 1950s, a tornado really did hit Cooleemee.

“They didn’t have sense enough to come home, so momma had to send me to the park to get those boys to come home,” Bimmy’s sister, Patty Lookabill, said in 2004. “They were just meandering along with Mike Jordan and Nemo (Woodward). The tornado tore down the fence at the ballpark. From the ballpark down Ruffin Street, it did right much damage. It’s a wonder we didn’t get killed. We had to stop and get on the porch at First Baptist Church. Lightning struck the message board and it scared the daylights out of us.”

Bimmy’s Cooleemee Midget baseball team won the Salisbury Rec title. One year his Little League team went 8-0. Bimmy pitched all eight games and hit .526.

“He was a rising fifth grader playing with rising eighth and ninth graders,” Woodward said. “We won the league that year. I was on the team but didn’t get to play much. Bimmy played shortstop and pitcher; I was his catcher. He was such a good pitcher, most of the guys couldn’t hit him and a lot of guys couldn’t catch him.”

Cooleemee’s seventh/eighth basketball team went 8-0 in 1957-58 and Bimmy was the only seventh-grade starter. Charles Crenshaw played for Mocksville.

“Everybody heard of him before you saw him,” Crenshaw said. “You knew who Grimes Parker was and everybody was just in awe of him. I remember the first game I ever played Little League, we played them. He pitched the game and hit two home runs. We played at Rich Park and he hit ‘em way out.”

As a senior football player at Davie in 1962, Bimmy was a 6-2, 175-pound quarterback who helped lead Davie to runner-up in the North Piedmont Conference behind unbeaten North Rowan, which edged Davie 7-6.

“Bimmy could throw or he could keep the ball,” Ward said. “The best thing was his leadership. We wanted to win and Bimmy brought everybody along the same tracks.”

John was the backup quarterback in 1962.

“Grimes is the only one I ever remember that called his own plays,” John said. “He just had a feel for the game. He just knew what was coming next.”

“When you stepped in the huddle, you shut up,” Woodward said.

Bimmy played varsity basketball as a freshman. He was All-NPC as a junior and senior. With Bimmy running point guard, the 1961-62 Rebels went 17-5 and won the NPC at 13-1. Bill Evans, Chuck Tomlinson, Jim Anderson, Junior Beal and Parker all averaged 8-plus points. The 1962-63 team led by Parker, Anderson, Gary McDaniel, Commie Shoffner and Woodward finished second.

“He would just as soon make a good pass as score,” Woodward said.

“He could have scored more, but we had such a good team he didn’t need to score,” Crenshaw said. “He’d throw a lot of no-look, hard passes.”

“If one certain player was the star player of a team, Grimes would guard him,” Harry Lee Howell said.

In baseball, Bimmy started at third base as a freshman, was all-NPC as a junior and was all-state as a senior, when he threw two no-hitters, set records for strikeouts (18 in one game) and wins and led the NPC with a .589 average, which remains a school record. He went 9-1 on the mound and averaged 11 Ks a game. Davie went 13-2 and won the program’s first conference title.

“He was as strong as a horse,” Pierce said.

“I can remember him hitting two opposite-field home runs in the same game, and that was a pretty good shot then at Rich Park,” Boger said.

“I remember one game he hit one out in left-center, came up the next time and hit one out in right-center,” Crenshaw said. “And he probably pitched the game, too. A lot of guys said he had an awesome knuckleball, but he didn’t hardly ever use it. He mostly could just throw it by everybody.”

“He’s as good a third baseman as I’ve ever seen,” Daywalt said.

In a Legion game in the summer of 1963, Bimmy hit a mammoth homer that was hit so far it befuddled the umpires. They lost track of the ball, got together and incorrectly ruled it a ground-rule double.

“The game started right before the sun went down,” Woodward said. “The lights were on but it was hard to see long fly balls in the light sky. Grimes hit one to right-center that I saw clear the fence by 50 feet – at least 425 feet. Neither umpire picked up the flight of the ball and they called it a ground-rule double. Grimes never said a word, just grinned.”

At Wingate Junior College, Bimmy started two years at third base and hit over .400 as a sophomore. In a doubleheader against Spartanburg, he went 3 for 5 in both games. Against Wake Forest, he made two sparkling plays that helped Wingate’s pitcher preserve a no-hitter. He hung up baseball when he finished his education at Appalachian State.

“Scouts from the White Sox and Yankees came to see me hit at Rich Park,” Bimmy said. “They said they were interested, but I wasn’t. At that time, I just didn’t want to go.”

“He was a homebody,” Patty said.

In the next chapter of Bimmy’s life, he was Coach Parker. He spent 12 years at Cooleemee (K-8) and 18 at South Davie. His tough-love style produced championships in every sport he coached – football, baseball and softball.


Well, we could do this all day, couldn’t we? The moments and the stories are never-ending. To this point, this farewell, which took me four days, has been fun because it has brought smiles and laughter. But now my hands are trembling. The ending is one of the hardest things these fingers have typed in my 29 years behind a keyboard. I am truly honored to offer the final words (in print) on Coach Parker, even though he never coached me a single time on the ballfield. Coach Parker was short and to the point; I’m not that at all (sorry, Mr. Parker, but I’m trying hard to get the words out). Here we go.

The heartbeat of Cooleemee died on March 3 at age 78. We like to say when someone passes that “there will never be another like him.” Usually it’s an exaggeration, but not this time.

The best we can hope to do is live a life that makes others remember us fondly. Bimmy/Coach Parker aced that test. We’re sad and Cooleemee is crying. There’s no other way to put this than: It absolutely sucks. We’ll never forget his badass glare/teddy bear heart.

There was only one Grimes “Bimmy” Parker. There will always be only one Grimes “Bimmy” Parker.