Bricktown Showdown IL Notebook

Mud Hens poised for inaugural game behind skipper Parrish

(Joy R. Absalon/

By Kevin T. Czerwinski / | September 18, 2006 5:21 PM ET

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Larry Parrish finished up his fourth season as Toledo skipper in fine fashion Saturday night, winning his second consecutive International League title. While such an impressive resume would likely garner some attention from Major League teams, he isn't worried too much about his future.

Parrish, who also has more than a season's worth of service as a big-league skipper, seems content in Toledo and speaks glowingly of the organization, the fans and the ballpark. So don't be surprised if he winds up back in the manager's office at Fifth Third Field in 2007.

"I don't think about it too much because I don't have any control over it," Parrish said about moving upward. "There are only so many Major League jobs, and it's not something that has to happen for me to be content with the game. It's one of those things that if it happens, fine. But if it doesn't, that's fine too."

Parrish is 302-280 as skipper of the Mud Hens. He also won a Southern League title with Jacksonville in 1996.

Still talkin' homers
Toledo's homer-happy approach was a hot topic throughout the Governors' Cup playoffs and remained so Monday during Bricktown Showdown press day. The local media peppered Parrish and his staff with questions about the long ball, and mostly they just grinned. It's nothing they haven't been asked about already.

"It's been a bit of a different club to watch," said Parrish, whose team connected for 22 homers in the playoffs, accounting for 31 percent of its hits. "We generally strike out in double digits, but we also have the chance to hit a couple of bombs. We generally look to put the big inning up. We've kind of defied logic the whole season."

Parrish wouldn't go so far as to predict a third straight title next season, admitting that he was simply amazed that his club came back to win this year after taking home the 2005 crown, the franchise's first since 1967.

"I think it's tough to repeat at anything," Parrish said. "Last year was almost a fairy tale. It took so long to win again in Toledo. To go back-to-back is such an unbelievable feeling.

"But when guys predict a three-peat, they have [Michael] Jordan or [Shaquille] O'Neal playing for them. Guys at that level can go for the next one."

Ludwick returns
Tuesday's game marks a homecoming of sorts for outfielder Ryan Ludwick, who appeared in 159 games for the Oklahoma RedHawks over the course of two seasons. He hit .285 with 15 homers and 52 RBIs in 2002 and followed that up by hitting .235 with 17 homers and 63 RBIs in 2003.

"I told all the guys that this is 'The House that Ludwick Built,'" he said. "I told everyone I get 10 percent of the gate. I used to be able to run back then. I played center field."

Travel trouble
The Mud Hens may have found it easier to earn the trip to Oklahoma City than they did actually getting there. They were scheduled to take two flights out of Detroit on Sunday because the team couldn't find enough seats on one commercial flight. Simple enough, but there was also no direct route from the Motor City to Oklahoma City.

Parrish was on the first flight, which made stops in Chicago and Kansas City before touching down in Oklahoma City at 10 p.m. ET, about seven hours after they set out. The second flight got delayed in Chicago because of weather, and after stopping in St. Louis, arrived in Oklahoma City close to 2 a.m. on Monday.

Compounding matters was the fact that it had rained quite a bit over the weekend, leaving the field unusable for batting practice Monday afternoon. The Mud Hens hit in the stadium's underground cages.

"To go through all that to get here today and the field is a mess because of all the rain," Parrish said. "We didn't get that message until we got to the ballpark."

Speaking out
Parrish remains outspoken about the Bricktown Showdown, still questioning the need for such an event. Still, he said he and his team would show up ready to play and win Tuesday, especially when considering the game is being televised nationally.

"We'll play the game as hard as we can play it," he said. "But it's tough, especially with that last series we had. It goes five games, and then to turn around and try to fire them back up. I don't know how they'll come back tomorrow. I know they want this to be like another series.

"And everyone might not feel about it the way I do. But it's like if you won the World Series and then went to Japan to play one game against their team that won. I don't think one game is going to decide anything."

This and that
Toledo radio announcer Jim Weber, in his 32nd year behind the Mud Hens' microphone, will call the game. It will be his 4,000th consecutive Hens' game. ... Toledo was given the home clubhouse even though the game is being played in a Pacific Coast League ballpark, because the International League won the Triple-A All-Star Game earlier this year in Toledo. ... Saturday's victory over Rochester did not mark the first time Toledo has won back-to-back crowns. The Mud Hens also won consecutive titles in 1896-97. ... Catcher Mike Rabelo and pitcher Chad Durbin were promoted to the Tigers, while Colby Lewis was designated for assignment to make room for Durbin on the 40-man roster. ... If you're in Toledo on Wednesday evening, the club will hold a victory celebration for the fans at Fifth Third Field at 6:30 p.m. Gates open at 6. ... Event organizers were expecting upward of 9,000 people for Tuesday's game. ... The Mud Hens were given maroon Bricktown Showdown batting practice jerseys, but since BP was canceled on Monday, any modeling will be done prior to Tuesday's game. ... Parrish said every pitcher would be available Tuesday except Brian Boehringer, who started and won Game 4 of the Governors' Cup on Friday.

Kevin Czerwinski is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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