“FENWAY'S BEST PLAYERS”
Vito "Babe" Parilli was born on May 7, 1930 in Rochester, Pennsylvania and graduated from Rochester High School.
After seeing him in a high school all-star game, though, the University of Kentucky coaches got interested and invited him to Lexington for a workout. He led the Wildcats to the most successful three-year stretch in the school’s football history. They rolled up a 28-8 record and appeared in the 1950 Orange Bowl, the 1951 Cotton Bowl, and the 1952 Sugar Bowl. Babe had two TD passes and was MVP in the 20-7 win over TCU.
He set four NCAA passing records: for touchdown passes in a season and a career, and most passes competed and passing yards in three varsity seasons. He was twice a first team All-America selection and finished third and fourth in Heisman Trophy balloting.
He was in Army ROTC at college, but he did not have to go into the service upon graduation. He was drafted as the fourth overall selection by Green Bay and its new coach Vince Lombardi in the 1952 NFL Draft, and split the quarterbacking with Tobin Rote in 1952 and 1953. Then came his call to military duty.
At age 30, he returned to play with the Cleveland Browns in 1956, who had traded for his rights when he was in the service, hoping that he would take over for the retiring Otto Graham. Five games into the 1956 season, however, he injured his throwing shoulder so badly that he could hardly move the arm. Six months of convalescence and little response followed.
1957 found Babe back in Green Bay, where he shared the quarterback job with Bart Starr for two years. With Green Bay he completed 258 passes for 3983 yards and 31 touchdowns. The 1959 season rolled around, and he got word that he’d been traded to Philadelphia to be Norm van Brocklin’s understudy. Sick of playing second fiddle, he went to Canada instead, where he put in a season with the Ottawa Roughriders.
In 1960, the American Football League was born, and Babe went to Oakland where he and Tom Flores divided the QB duties. The next year he was traded to the Boston Patriots in a five player deal, where he again shared quarterback duties with Butch Songin. In 1961 he led the AFL with a 52.5 % completion rate, but his full brilliance as a passer and field general did not emerge until 1962, when the Pats sent Songin to play in New York, and Babe took over the number one slot.
With a talented receiving corps, Babe directed an exciting offensive show in virtually every game. He set every passing record in the young club’s history during over seven seasons. He threw 2,410 times as a Patriot and completed 1,140 passes for 16,747 yards and 132 touchdowns. He led the league in 1964 passing for 3465 yards and 31 touchdowns, which was a Patriots record until Tom Brady broke it in 2007.
The Patriots he had a winning record in five of his seven seasons and posted an overall mark of went 50-39-9. He was a three-time league all-star and the comeback player of they year in 1966. He finished his playing career with the New York Jets in 1968 and 1969 and earned a Super Bowl ring as Joe Namath's back-up.
Babe remained with his beloved game as a coach and front office executive. He tutored Terry Bradshaw as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ coaching staff in 1973.
He then became the head coach of the New York Stars in the World Football League in 1974 and the following year he became the head coach of the Chicago Winds for just two games before they went bankrupt. He also coached in the Arena Football League in 1988 for the New England Steamrollers, the Denver Dynamite (1989-1991), the Charlotte Rage (1992), the Las Vegas Sting (1994-1995), the Anaheim Piranhas (1996) and the Florida Bobcats (1997).
Babe was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1982, the University of Kentucky's Hall Fame in 2004 and was named to the Patriots 1960s All Decade Team
Babe Parilli passed away on July 15, 2017 at age 87, after battling multiply myeloma in Rochester, Pennsylvania.