The All-Big Team
EN ROUTE TO NEWPORT, R.I. — Brilliant Reader Chris with today’s Brilliant Reader Challenge — he wants me to come up with the all “Big” team, which is to say players who had Big nicknames.
As you will see, this is easier at some positions than it is at others.
Catcher: Big Wheel (Lance Parrish)
Runner-up: Big Dumper (Cal Raleigh)
I don’t recall Lance Parrish being called the Big Wheel, but apparently it was a pretty prominent nickname among his nicknames on those powerhouse mid-1980s Tigers — he was the Big Wheel that drove that Tigers train.
Parrish is one of those guys who, no, is not quite a Hall of Famer as the Hall is currently constructed, but he really was a fantastic player who would definitely rate a Level 5 and maybe even a Level 6 in the sort of 10 Level Baseball Pyramid the way Bill James suggests. From 1982, he averaged 30 home runs, about 100 RBIs and he won three Gold Gloves. That’s pretty elite stuff. Mike Downey, who watched Parrish throughout his career, wrote this at his retirement:
“Lance Parrish was as good a catcher as any I ever saw, and I dare say he belongs on any list of baseball’s best 10 catchers ever.”
That might be a bridge too far for me, but I do think he was terrific and a worthy Big Catcher.