The DNR 25 is a list of my personal favorite Detroit Tigers players of the past 25 years. If you’ve missed any so far and care to catch up, here’s the previous five.
#16: Kenny Rogers
#17: Travis Fryman
#18: Tom Brookens
#19: Ivan Rodriguez
#20: Jack Morris
And on with the list…
Lance Michael Parrish
None (Walnut High School, Diamond Bar, CA)
1974, 1st Round, 16th pick, Detroit Tigers
.252 Avg, 324 HR, 1070 RBI, .753 OPS, 106 OPS+
8-time All Star
3-time Gold Glover Winner
6-time Silver Slugger
1983: 3rd in Doubles (42)
1984: 3rd in Home Runs (33)
Best Tiger Season
”The Big Wheel” turned in many good seasons in Detroit. That’s why he his still so fondly remembered today by those of us that started watching Tiger baseball before 2006...jerks. However, my choice as his best season was 1982. That season, he hit a career high .284 in 486 at bats. He also belted 32 homers, had 87 RBI, an OPS of .867, and his OPS+ was 135, again the highest of his career.
Parrish would have double digits in homers from 1978-1992, which is quite remarkable for a catcher, especially in that era.
Little Known Fact
Lance’s son David was drafted in 2000 by the New York Yankees ahead of such current stars as Adam Wainwright, Cliff Lee, Jason Bay, and Grady Sizemore. He is currently in the Texas Rangers organization.
Reason For Being On The List
This isn’t a tough one. When I started playing baseball in '85 or ’86, I was the starting catcher. I was the team’s cleanup hitter. I was also the biggest guy on the team.
That’s what she said!
Um, anyway, so was Lance with the Tigers. Naturally, I was immediately drawn to Parrish and tried to imitate him, like all kids do with their heroes, I guess. Over time, I would end up liking many of the mid-80’s Tiger players more, but Lance was the first.
Oh yeah, he was a hell of a player, too. But he wasn’t an all-time great, if you believe baseball writers, as he only received 1.7% of the votes for the Hall of Fame in 2001. He remains 5th all time in homers as a catcher, though, with 299.
What Happened To Him?
Try to stick with me here. Lance moved around a lot more than I remembered before looking all this stuff up.
In March of 1987, Parrish signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Phillies. They even made their slogan that year “Lance Us A Pennant”. He didn’t deliver as the Phillie fans expected, and it didn’t take long for him to fall out of favor with them. Imagine that, Philadelphia fans booing their players. They should burn that stupid city down. Then bomb it to make sure there are no survivors.
In October of 1988, Lance was traded to the then California Angels for a guy named David Heldridge. After a few mediocre years in La-La Land, he was released in June of 1992. Five days later, Parrish signed with the Seattle Mariners, where he never actually played in a big league game.
The next season, Lance signed in January with the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, that was the year that Mike Piazza exploded out of nowhere and LA decided to break Spring Training with him instead of Parrish. In May, he was released and quickly signed by the Cleveland Indians, where he played a grand total of ten games.
His next stop, sort of, was back in Detroit, as the Tigers re-signed him in February of 1994. Any chances for nostalgia didn’t last long as the Pittsburgh Pirates purchased him from Detroit on April 30th. He played 40 games that year for the Pirates.
In February of 1995, he signed as a free agent with the Kansas City Royals. However, two months later, Parrish was sent to the Toronto Blue Jays as part of a conditional deal. He spent the final 70 games of his career as a Blue Jay hitting .202 with 4 homers and 22 RBI. Although he would sign as a free agent in January of 1996 with the Pirates again, Lance would never end up playing for them.
Okay. Take a deep breath for a second. His moving around isn’t done yet.
In 1996, Lance ended up being the roving catching instructor for the Royals. From 1997 to 1998, he was a coach for the Dodgers AA team, the San Antonio Missions. He returned to Detroit from 1999-2001 spending time as third base coach, bullpen coach, and bench coach. 2002 saw him as the color analyst for the Tiger broadcasts on WKBD TV.
When Alan Trammell was made the Tiger manager, Parrish returned as a coach from 2003-2005. After being dismissed there, Lance moved on to being the manager of the Ogden Raptors, the rookie ball team of the Dodgers. After that, he was made the first manager of the A Ball Great Lakes Loons in November of 2006. His contract wasn’t renewed after that season.
Where he stops next…nobody knows. Thanks for the memories, big guy.
Info ripped off of baseball-reference.com and Wikipedia.
Pics via Google.