Wednesday, February 29, 2012

DAHOF Top 100 -- #32 Lance Parrish

In addition to having one of my favorite nicknames ever, Lance "Big Wheel" Parrish is regarded as one of the best catchers in the 1980s. In a 19-year major league career, he hit 324 home runs, won three Gold Gloves and six Silver Slugger awards. He was also named to eight All-Star teams, representing three different teams.

He was a first-round pick by the Detroit Tigers in 1974 and spent 1974-77 in the minors, showing power by hitting 55 home runs in that time. He made his major league debut in September 1977 and after that was in the majors for good. In 1982, he established the American League record for home runs by a catcher (32), surpassing the previous mark set by Yogi Berra and Gus Triandos, then surpassed his own mark two years later.

He was a key member of the great 1984 Detroit "Bless You Boys" Tigers who won 111 games. Batting as the clean-up hitter, he produced 33 home runs and 98 runs batted in, adding another Silver Slugger Award as well as a second Gold Glove Award to his credentials. He also caught Jack Morris' no-hitter on April 7 of that season. The Tigers led the American League Eastern Division season from start to finish. In the 1984 post-season he caught every inning and delivered a home run against both the Royals (ALCS) and the Padres (World Series) as the Tigers rolled.

After ten years with the Tigers, Parrish signed with the Philadelphia Phillies as a free agent before the 1987 season. The Phillies made their slogan for the season "Lance us a Pennant." Ranking near the bottom of full time major league players in 1988 with a .215 batting average, it didn't take long before he fell out of favor with the Philadelphia fans and media. Afterwards, he played three seasons and parts of a fourth with the California Angels before ending his career with short stints for the Mariners, Indians, Pirates and Blue Jays.


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