Lance Parrish – 1993 Score Select
May 12, 2011
You Make The Call…
Now, onto the star of this here post…
Isn’t it weird to see Lance Parrish tagging out Lou Whitaker?
Before Parrish left the Tigers, Parrish and Whitaker had been teammates since they both had a cuppa joe for Le Tigre in 1977, so any tags by Parrish to Whitaker were in intrasquad games early in spring training. And then, only when they were young and hungry.
Parrish was a darn good catcher and an underrated (or overrated) hitter, depending on if you drank Sparky’s Kool-Aid (Menthol flavored) or not. But the end of the line is cruelest for catchers – one day you’re on top and the next you’re scuffling among five teams in four seasons.
The Mariners were one of those teams, of course. After a couple of so-so years the Angels released Parrish in mid-June 1992 even though that meant the catching would be in the hands of Ron Tingley and Mike Fitzgerald, and the Mariners picked him up because they needed a backup for Dave Valle and the first base combo of O’Brien and Martinez.
Those 1992 Mariners were pretty hapless – led by Bill Plummer – who was shown to be a bit out of his league managing in the AL. Plummer got a lot of heat for using 11 pitchers in a game in September, but I think there was more than that which caused Plummer’s exit.
What intrigues me is how the Tiger fans reacted when Parrish appeared in their hallowed ground. It wasn’t like Parrish had been a Tiger just the past season, but he was still a figure from the great 1984 team. Over the July 4 weekend, the Mariners traveled to Detroit for a five-game series, including a July 3 doubleheader.
Shall we see when Parrish tagged / tried to tag Whitaker?
Sure, why not – it’s what I do best. Well, not really, but I’m good at it.
July 3 – Game 1 – Parrish didn’t play. That was easy.
July 3 – Game 2 – Parrish played. The Mariners won 11-0 and Whitaker never made it past second.
July 4 – Parrish played first base.
July 5 – Parrish moved to catcher in the fourth after starting at first. Both managers made platoon moves very early in the game after pitching changes. Whitaker was on base a lot but didn’t have a play at the plate when Parrish was catching. He was pinch hit for and removed late in the game.
July 6 – A 14-inning affair and Parrish catches each inning. This has to be the game. Whitaker is on base a lot. Let’s see.
- In the bottom of the third, Parrish made a throwing error during a Milt Cuyler steal of third allowing Whitaker to move to second (and Cuyler scores). Travis Fryman hit a grounder to Dave Cochrane at third. It’s an error and Whitaker scores. Could that be the play?
- In the bottom of the seventh, Whitaker scores from third on a single to right. That’s not it.
- But we have the winner in the bottom of the 12th. Russ Swan is on the hill for the Mariners. Whitaker walks and is sacrificed to second by Fryman. Swan throws a wild pitch, and with a runner on third and one out Plummer orders Swan to load ’em up intentionally. You know the scene – the outfield in as shallow as they can – the infield in at the corners and halfway up the middle so they can try to turn two. More often than not, this alignment leads to a winning single on any ball hit to the outfield. Except…
- Dan Gladden hits a fly to short right. Whitaker tags. Jay Buhner is in right and as Frank Costanza says “He has a rocket for an arm.” Even if Whitaker’s foot may have grazed the plate, Parrish has the ball, and seems to have counted the seams and verified the signature before tagging Lou. Yer OUT! 9-2 DP! Buhner’s second DP on an attempted sac fly of the game!
Alas, all was not sunshine and unicorns for the Mariners, as they lost in 14. But the game produced a heck of a baseball card, didn’t it?