Ray Parson

During his high school playing days, Ray Parson was a man playing with boys. He was an outstanding all-around athlete at Uniontown High School.

Chuck Muncie  

Parson was a tight end on the WPIAL championship football team in 1965. He was a starter as
a sophomore on the 1964 state championship basketball team. His efforts also helped the Red
Raiders win 52 straight basketball games before losing to Aliquippa in 1965. He was also a key
player on the 1966 WPIAL championship basketball team.

His old teammates referred to Parson affectionately as 'Bull' because of his imposing stature.

"We had some great athletes back in those days," Parson said. "I try as hard as I can to stay in
contact with most of them.

"Spider Minor taught us real values in athletics, and he also taught us to be successful that you
had to put in the work to be successful. We all tried to commit ourselves towards things that he
had instilled in us."

East End playground was the incubator that the athletes developed in and Uniontown's athletic

"We had some pick up games that people would have died to have in different tournaments,"
said Parson.

Parson looks back at the great Uniontown teams and marvels at the 1964 PIAA basketball

"That group of guys was probably the most talented bunch of people I've ever been affiliated
with in sports," Parson recalled. "We had a great coach and we had great ballplayers and we
trusted each other and we played for each other. We were 28-0 that year - that was a team that
couldn't be conquered - that was a great team. That was Stu Lantz, Pat Yates, Ben Gregory,
Ray Stephens, Chuck Beckwith, Wilfred Minor and my brother Ed Parson - it was just a great
collection of athletes."

Parson has fond memories of his coaches during that period.

"Abe Everhart started me as a sophomore and that was real rare at Uniontown - to be able to
start varsity as a sophomore," Parson explained. "Abe pulled me over to the side one time and
said 'look if you want this position - you're going to have to show me you want it.' I had a few
other seniors that were in front of me, but I just think that the confidence he gave me telling me
that if I wanted that position was enough for me to excel and go ahead and take over that spot.
From that time on I was pretty successful in basketball. Winning the MVP award at the Farrell
Tournament as a sophomore. The accolades that I got - I attest most of those to Abe Everhart."

His football coach was Leon Kaltenbach and the Raiders captured the 1965 WPIAL football

"Leon Kaltenbach was a great coach," Parson stated. "Mr. Yourchik was my offensive end and
defensive coach, and I give most of the credit to him as far as preparing me for college and
preparing me for the pro ranks and everything else football wise. We were coached like college
kids in high school, and we had that kind of discipline when we went to college. So it wasn't hard
for us to make adjustments to get into different schemes and different offenses and defenses."

Uniontown's mighty 1965 WPIAL AA football champions earned the highest numerical index
ever in Dr. Roger B. Saylor's Pennsylvania scholastic football ratings. They played and defeated
many of the WPIAL's strongest teams in the regular season, and then came from behind to
conquer what may have been Butler's best ever team by 14-7 in a great AA title game at Pitt

In the 1965 AA epic at Pitt, the Red Raiders fell behind Butler and its Saul brothers, Rich and
Ron, 7-0 in the first half. With the game tied a 7-7. Uniontown got the ball back on a punt at its
own 13-yardline. The Red Raiders started a decisive drive that covered 87 yards in nine

Halfback Ray Gillian scored the winning touchdown; Gillian sweeping right behind the blocking
of fullback Phil Vassar and halfback Trip Radcliffe, cut back and, with Vassar and Radcliffe
taking down more would-be Butler tacklers, raced in for the winning touchdown.

"I remember that game so well," Parson gushed. "In the first half Wilfred Minor called a bootleg
pass and I was wide open in the end zone and he threw the ball to me and hit me right in the
numbers and it bounced out - I couldn't believe it.

"The play that you are talking about for Gillian's score was called 28 sweep. That's when I hook
the outside end and we do a crab leg block on him and he has a lead back who was Vassar
leading the way with a pulling guard and he just hit that corner and it was all over. Ray turned on
the jets and it was over."

Parson graduated after the 1965-66 season and was faced with a decision. He was named
second-team high school All-American by Kick-Off magazine. At the time the magazine wrote-
"Ray Parson the 6-5, 235-pound end from Pennsylvania's Uniontown High, which has a
reputation for producing great college and pro stars, has more college offers than he can count -
in basketball as well as football. One day he'll have to decide on one sport or the other."

Parson also garnered First Team All-State honors, he was a First Team Parade All-American
and Second Team Sports Illustrated All-American in football. In basketball, he was named
Second Team All-State and was a Hoops Magazine All-American.

"It was pretty hard," Parson recalled. "I went away to a Junior College at McCook JC in
Nebraska. I did play basketball and I did pretty well and I played against people like Spencer
Heywood and in game against him at Trinidad, CO - I had 25 points and 25 rebounds and even
blocked one of Spencer's dunks. It was really a challenging time that - did I really want to play
football or did I want to play basketball.”

At McCook in football in 1967 Parson was Grid Wire All-American Defensive End and a National Jr. College All-American.

On the hardwood at McCook in 1967-68 Parson was Team Most Valuable Player and in 1968 was aNational Jr. College All-American.

"I think football just kind of pulled it's way out because of my uncle and a few other people that
wanted to see me play football, but I could have played basketball I'm pretty sure."

After junior college, Parson wound up going to the University of Minnesota.

"It all started from Sandy Stephens and Bill Munsey and those two were the pioneers for most of
the athletes that came out of Uniontown. It was tough though, Nebraska wanted me and hid me
away at the JC. When they found out that I had signed with Minnesota they were upset," Parson

Parson had a fine career at Minnesota and captured All Big Ten honors in 1969 and won the
Bronko Nagurski Award as team MVP in 1969.

"I had 39 receptions my senior year as a tight end," Parson said. "I got hurt my last game at
Minnesota playing against Wisconsin. I had knee surgery and I rehabilitated and I was picked to
play in the college All-Star game against the Kansas City Chiefs and I re-injured the left knee.
The Detroit Lions drafted me and I played my second season there after being in a cast for 10
months. I played at offensive tackle and I was doing pretty well at that new position and I really
wasn't built to be an offensive tackle. I left Detroit and bounced back in the World Football
League and I played tight end for Babe Parilli with the New York/Charlotte Stars."

Parson caught 25 passes for the Stars in 1974 for 325 yards and two touchdowns and garnered
All-Pro honors. He also played the 1975 season with Charlotte before retiring.

Parson entered private business and was involved with several business ventures in Minnesota
until health problems forced him to move to Palmdale, CA where he retired. He has moved back to Minneapolis
and got his bachelor's degree in 2010 and a Masters Degree in 2013 from the University of Minnesota.

Parson,71,summed up his athletic career this way.

"I think I had a great career," Parson explained. "The only thing is I think I should have given a
little more thought to basketball than what I did. I had the talent to really play that position of
small forward coming up the court - sort of like a Scottie Pippin type of position, but I never even
thought of myself in that role, but I could play that role and now I see that and I didn't give that
much thought to basketball as I did football."

Parson was inducted into the Uniontown High School Academics, Arts, Athletics Hall of Fame in 2014.


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