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Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Bob Parsons was a member of the Lipscomb Bisons baseball team that won the 1977 NAIA National Championship. He was inducted into the Lipscomb Athletics Hall of Fame in 2002. He was the team MVP in both 1976 and 1978 and was named first team NAIA All-American in 1978. His regular job has nothing to do with baseball, but when he leaves his office he spends time giving private lessons and helping to arrange showcases for players seeking to play college or pro baseball through Proday. Bob spent some time this week talking with Lipscombsports.com.
What sport did you play at Lipscomb? What years? Who were your coaches?
"I played baseball at Lipscomb from 1975-78. Ken Dugan was the head coach. Roy Pardue was the pitching coach. Buddy Harston was an assistant coach and then Curtis Putnam became an assistant coach. It was interesting because Buddy was the second baseman the year before I came to Lipscomb.
"I didn't have a lot of offers to play baseball. A friend of mine, Billy Bennett, was being recruited to play basketball at Lipscomb. When he was on campus he stopped and talked to coach Dugan and told him he had a friend that plays second base and shortstop. Coach Dugan told him he didn't have any more scholarships and he didn't need another infielder.
"I didn't know the whole story until I talked with Billy a couple of months ago. By the time Billy got home coach Dugan had been trying to call him to get my number. I guess coach Dugan had found out something about me because he never saw me play. I guess he talked to a scout or somebody else.
"Coach Dugan called me at home and asked me if I would come to campus and take a look at the place. I didn't try out. He offered me a scholarship and my Dad said we would think about it. I told my Dad, `What do you mean we are going to think about it?' By the time we got home coach Dugan called and offered me more so it worked out."
What is your fondest athletic memory at Lipscomb?
"It has to be winning the World Series in 1977. That was the best time. We were pretty good, but we had some ups and downs that year. We worked our way into the national tournament. We got beat our first game so nobody really unpacked because we thought we were going home.
"The atmosphere, the process we went through, all the work we put into it and the way we won it was just incredible. Every team sets a goal to win a national championship but coach Dugan and coach Pardue prepared us for that. That was the thing they did so well. They prepared us through fundamental baseball. Their emphasis was on pitching and defense. If a team had pitchers that could throw strikes and guys that could make the plays you could win. And that's what we did.
"One of the things that helped me out quite a bit was Steve Fletcher. He was a pitcher, but at the end of that year he started hitting and playing first base. He used to hit fungos…ground balls…to me. I mean he hit ropes. He hit to me every day. He just killed me. I had bruises everywhere. But that kind of stuff not only prepared you to make the tough plays and to also make the routine plays."
Who had the biggest influence on you during your athletic career at Lipscomb? How?
"It has to be coach Dugan. I was brought up in an athletic family…a baseball family. Our high school coach was excellent. He prepared us for college. A lot of things coach Dugan taught I knew already, but he just enhanced it so much.
"He had such drive. He wanted to win. And it wasn't winning at all costs. It was at the cost of working hard. Coach Dugan, coach Pardue and Buddy prepared us and drove us.
"Coach Dugan taught us to find a way to succeed in baseball and it carried over into our lives."
What is your fondest non-athletic memory from your time at Lipscomb?
"I made lifelong friends both on and off of the field.
"We had so many people who supported us like Patty Queen (Boyd), Charlie Newsom and Diane Dugan (McCarley). They took us under our wings as freshmen. They welcomed us and invited us into their homes to eat. Bobby Hamilton and I were so far away from home that we couldn't go home at Thanksgiving so they would invite us to eat with them.
"It was a warm welcome that people from Lipscomb give you. Being away from home is kind of lonely at times. That got us through our freshman year.
"Then there was the support of the professors. They would stop us and talk to us. They would ask us if we needed any help with class. They were very supportive."
What is the most valuable thing you gained or learned from your time at Lipscomb?
"I learned how to succeed, not only in athletics, but in the classroom. Coach Dugan always said, `Let's find a way to win today.' I think that is what I gained. Being in business I tell my employees we have to find ways to win."
Who was your favorite professor? Why?
"Dr, Marlin Connelly was probably the best professor I had. He made you learn. He wanted you to learn and succeed and he found a way to make you learn.
"Dr. Axel Swang taught me in accounting. He would tell me to come by his office before practice and we would review what we had done in class. Bless his heart he tried with all of his heart to help me but I just couldn't get accounting. He was a jewel. There weren't too many better than him.
"Dr. Ralph Nance was the same way. I didn't have a bad instructor, but those are the ones that stand out for me. They went a little further and took the extra initiative to make sure you were on track."
Where do you live now?
"I live in Malbis, Ala. It is right next to Mobile and is really part of the city of Daphne."
Who is your employer? What is your occupation? What does your position entail?
"I work for a company called Austal USA. We build ships for the U.S. Navy. I am a commodity manager in the purchasing department. Ever since I got out of baseball I have worked in purchasing. My responsibility is major equipment such as the propulsion systems and all of the aluminum for the boats. I have people who work for me who manage the outside suppliers. It is a pretty big job. It is a big company that is still growing."
Tell us about your family.
"I have been married to my wife, Jeri, for 27 years. We have two daughters. Holly, 23, is a graduate of the University of South Alabama. She works for the Mobile Bay Bears, the Double-A franchise of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Katie, 21, just graduated from Spring Hill College in Mobile. She is teaching in a summer program at a Christian school, but she is looking for a permanent teaching job for this fall."