Even though the muscular Larry Parrish went on to become an impressive slugger during his years in Montreal and Texas, his defensive play was considered his greatest asset when he was brought up by the Expos late in the 1974 season. He hit just .203 in 25 appearances that year, and .153 the following spring, but won the third-base job in 1975 when Gene Mauch shifted fellow rookie infielder Pete Mackanin to second. Responding to his manager’s confidence, Parrish established himself as a fine all-around player, hitting .274 with ten homers and 65 RBI and leading the mediocre Expos with 146 hits and 32 doubles. Despite his egregious total of 35 errors, Parrish also demonstrated he was capable of some outstanding — if streaky — glove work at third.
A pull hitter who liked his pitches up in the strike zone, Parrish’s batting average slumped slightly over the next two seasons, even though his power numbers remained constant. But as the Expos improved, Parrish blossomed. Surrounded by the likes of Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, and Ellis Valentine, he hit a career-high 15 homers in 1978 and doubled that total during an outstanding 1979 campaign. He finished the season with a .307 batting average; it was the first time he had batted over .300, and only the third time an Expo had done so. He set another personal best with 82 RBIs. In the process, Parrish made the first of two All-Star appearances and was named Expos Player of the Year.
Bothered by a wrist injury in 1980, Parrish played in only 126 games but still drove in 72 runs. After a decent 1981 campaign, the emergence of prospect Tim Wallach brought an end to Parrish’s tenure in Montreal. Just before the 1982 season began, Parrish was dealt to Texas for perennial All-Star Al Oliver, who had hit .309 the year before; he left Montreal as the club’s all-time leader in games, at-bats, hits, and doubles. In Texas, with Gold Glover Buddy Bell the incumbent third baseman, Parrish was moved to right field, where he displayed limited range but a powerful arm.
At first, the trade seemed like a steal for the Expos. Oliver went on to win the 1982 NL batting crown with a .331 average, while Parrish slumped early in the season — his numbers through June (.186, 1 homer, and 6 RBI) were atrocious. (Some blamed his new contact lenses; others believed he was simply too vulnerable to curveballs.) However, Parrish went on a tear in early July, slugging three grand slams in one week — in his last 85 games, he hit .296 with 16 homers and 56 RBI. In 1983, he led the Rangers with 26 homers and 88 RBI, and continued to improve on his already-impressive offensive output in 1984 by hitting .285, his best mark since 1979, and driving in more than 100 runs (101) for the first time in his career.
But Parrish was again slowed by injury problems in 1985. He had been plagued by knee pain since the offseason, but chose to ignore it; he was eventually diagnosed as having torn cartilage in his left knee. Midseason surgery kept him out for nearly two months. When he returned, he spent some time at third (Buddy Bell had been dealt to Cincinnati for Duane Walker and Jeff Russell in late July) but his knees mostly limited him to DH duty. Parrish hit 17 homers but was uncharacteristically inconsistent at the plate. 1986 was a renaissance of sorts for Parrish, who hit .276 with 28 homers and 94 RBI; only Pete Incaviglia (30) had more round-trippers on the team. Parrish continued his comeback in 1987 with 32 homers (a Ranger record) and 100 RBI in 1987. He was named to his second All-Star team and became the 13th player with 30-homer seasons in both the AL and NL.
With younger but similarly-talented Pete Incaviglia making a strong case for his job, Parrish became expendable. He was released in early July (leaving as the club’s all-time leading home run hitter) and signed with Boston a week later. Parrish hit just .217 for the year — his worst average since 1974 — and was released by the Red Sox after the season. Parrish spent two years in Japan, hitting a total of 70 homers for two different teams, but retired after the 1990 season. In 1992, Parrish was hired by the Detroit Tigers in 1992 as a minor-league manager and eventually joined the Tigers as bench coach in 1996. He was named interim manager when former teammate Buddy Bell was fired by Detroit on September 1, 1998.
Parrish was awarded the Tigers’ full-time job in 1999 but after a disappointing 69-92 finish was replaced by former Brewers skipper Phil Garner before the beginning of the 2000 season.