Closer to Ryno than you’d think

lance-parrish.jpg
Lance Parrish is with us for three more days, managing the expansion Great Lakes Loons against your Bees at The Hive. Last night, the Midland, Michigan-based Dodgers farm club won its first game against Burlington, holding off the Bees, 7-4.

Though he’s not by any means a household name, Parrish had quite the big league career. The first 10 seasons (1977-1986), he was the starting catcher for a Tigers team that featured Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, and Kirk Gibson. The second nine years (1987-1995), he hopped around, making journeyman stops with the Phillies, Angels, Mariners, Indians, Pirates and Blue Jays.

Most years, Lance Parrish would be the biggest name managing in the Midwest League, maybe in all of A-ball.

Not this year. Not with Hall-of-Famer Ryne Sandberg capturing everyone’s attention as the skipper of the 2007 Peoria Chiefs.

Upon closer inspection, though, Parrish and Sandberg enjoyed surprisingly similar careers.

All-Star Games
Sandberg played in 10.
Parrish played in eight. That’s more than any former Bees player: More than Paul Molitor (seven). More than Vida Blue and Billy Williams (both six-time all-stars). More than Larry Walker (five), Kenny Rogers (four), and Mark Buehrle (three).

Home Runs
Ryno hit 282 roundtrippers, including 40 in 1990, at the time a record for second basemen.
“The Big Wheel” hit 324, including 32 in 1982, at the time a record for A.L. catchers.

Runs Batted In
Ryno drove in 1,061.
Parrish had nine more RBI.

Silver Sluggers
Sandberg seven.
Parrish six.

To be fair, Sandberg clearly was the better hitter. He collected 2,386 hits in his 16-year career, compared to Parrish’s 1,782. He also finished with a .285 career average, while Parrish was a .252 hitter whose highest mark was .286 in 1980.

You could also say that Ryno was the better fielder, though it would be an apples-to-oranges comparison. Sandberg won 9 gold gloves, while Parrish won three.

Still, though, it’s hard to argue that the Loons manager had a noteworthy career in the Major Leagues. In 1984, he was part of a World Championship team — something Sandberg no doubt wishes he had on his resume.

Parrish photo by Ross Claussen

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