BERRY: All for the love of Lance Parrish

Jul 5, 2012


Instead, I told my wife, Amy, because I knew she had an adolescent crush on the former Detroit Tigers catcher.

Come to find out, Amy has an adult crush on the man who hasn't played baseball for almost 20 years. Amy quickly went online and ordered tickets for her and me, and our daughters, Evien and Maggie.

"Whoa! The first 1,000 people at the stadium get a free Lance Parrish bobblehead!" she shouted.

Then Amy got out her old baseball card collection and rummaged through them until she found the perfect one to have autographed: a 1983 Donruss oversized card with a face shot of Parrish with a bat resting on his shoulder, and a small box in the upper right corner with him in his catching crouch, wearing all his gear.

She slipped the card into a protective plastic sleeve and placed it on the dresser with the tickets she had printed up.

Amy went to work and told everyone that she was going to meet her girlhood idol. I had no idea how infatuated she was with this guy. Amy's colleagues and professional acquaintances were so thrilled by her enthusiastic devotion to the washed-up baseball star that one of them actually bought her a gift card for concessions at Fifth Third Ballpark.

I wasn't much of a baseball fan back when Lance Parrish was a player, so his appeal is lost on me. One day, I picked up Amy's baseball card and examined it closely. "He's not really all that handsome," I thought.

I flipped the card over and checked his batting stats. "He wasn't much of a slugger, either," I said to myself, "so he must have been one heck of a catcher."

The day of the game, Amy wore a button of Lance Parrish that she had dug out of her archive of baseball memorabilia. The button was faded to a dull yellow like a windshield coated with nicotine. I was actually looking forward to an evening of minor league baseball with my family. Amy was as excited as I'd ever seen her.

We had a strategic plan in place for the game. We had to get there early so we could get a bobblehead, so we planned to leave as soon as Amy got home from work. Amy wanted to pack snacks, drinks, the tickets and her baseball card inside a turquoise backpack with hearts all over it. This is when our enjoyable night at the ballpark started its slow decent downhill, and we never fully caught up to it after that.

Amy couldn't find the backpack, so I suggested that we just use my satchel. My over-the-shoulder bag is a beat-up military sack that appears to have been used in several wars. Amy rolled her eyes and thrust a loud puff of air out her nose. Disgusted, she crammed everything into the satchel.

I decided to take one last look in the basement and, lo and behold, I unearthed the missing backpack. Amy transferred everything from the satchel to the backpack — and in a whirlwind of activity, we were on our way.

I stopped for gas about halfway to the game, and that's when Amy discovered that she left the gift card in the satchel. If we went back, we risked losing our place in line for bobbleheads, so we forged ahead with my teeth clenched at the thought of buying concessions food that we could have gotten free.

After we pulled into the ballpark parking lot, we paid for our parking spot and Amy realized we only had three tickets printed out. How could you be so ... (yes, I said it). Then I said some words that the kids would have to ask the meaning of later. Spitting and sputtering, I made it clear that I was not, under any circumstance, buying another ticket.

Evien, Maggie and I got in line for our Lance Parrish bobblehead, while Amy went to the ticket counter to try and clear things up. She came back in a few minutes and said that they would have been happy to print up the missing ticket since we paid for it, except (Amy starred at the ground for a moment) the tickets were for last Wednesday's game. We were there on Friday.

Amy was in tears. I couldn't let her miss out on seeing her hero, so I marched up to the ticket booth and bought four new tickets. The gates opened, and we each got a bobblehead.

Then we realized that the line for autographs stretched for about a quarter-mile. No problem. There was no turning back now.

Amy got in line with her backpack and her baseball card, and the girls and I toted our bobbleheads to the concession stand. I got them some chicken fries and soda, and I bought myself a big ol' beer. That's all I could carry.

We settled into our seats. It was a warm night, but a gentle breeze kept us cool along the first base line. After a few innings, I felt a mellow glow from my beverage.

The girls didn't finish their chicken fries, so I downed them. Life was good — for a moment.

We'd been watching Amy's progress in the autograph line. "Look girls, mommy's behind that big black sign." Later, "Look girls, mommy's in front of that big black sign." I knew it wouldn't be long and she'd have her autograph.

That's when Amy plopped down beside me. My eyes popped open, "Did you get your autograph?" I asked.

"No, I didn't want to wait any longer," she said.

"What? That autograph was the reason we came here."

I didn't speak to Amy much after that.

I got onto the highway heading north by mistake and had to turn around. I used one of those "Authorized Vehicles Only" turnaround areas in the median and an authorized vehicle parked beside me with its red lights flashing. I got a ticket.

The entire evening ended up costing us about $400. A few days after our adventure, I went on eBay and bought Amy a Lance Parrish 1983 Donruss oversized autographed baseball card for $4.50.

The best part of this story is that Amy and I are on speaking terms again. And we have our Lance Parrish bobbleheads. They're for sale. If you'd like to buy one, you can have it for $400.

— By Grant Berry, Tribune community columnist


Kelly O'Toole

Ah, the things we do for love. I really enjoyed reading this. Very funny and real. Fantastic closing lines. Thanks for a wonderful column, Mr. Berry.


I also enjoyed reading this. Mr. Berry, I too had a huge crush on Lance Parrish in middle school. As I read your article I actually felt a twinge of jealousy thinking your wife could not have a crush on him, he was mine. When I heard he was coming to 5/3 to sign autographs I also thought about going to finally meet my long ago crush, but, unfortunately had other obligations that day. Thanks for the great story.


I did not have a crush on Lance Parrish, however I did enjoy the article. Thanks


You guys are really fortunate. I hope he will visit our place someday as well. I would like to have a photograph with him. - Missed Fortune


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