A game to benefit cancer research matched past little leaguers against current ones

Published 10:51 pm Monday, August 16, 2004

By By MARK ANDERSON / Niles Daily Star
Thomas Stadium may not have been jam-packed with people Saturday for the Brian Parker benefit baseball game, but there was plenty of spirit at the event, which added about $200 in proceeds to the ongoing effort to raise cancer-research funds in memory of Parker.
The Vintage Vikings, a baseball team consisting of men age 35 and up, took on the 15-year-old Babe Ruth All-Stars. There was considerable action and just plain fun in the seven innings of play, resulting in an 8-5 win for the All-Stars.
In a couple instances, father played against son, such as when Vintage Viking Phil Anderson went to the plate to face his son, pitcher Dustin Anderson.
There were also between-inning activities, including the bat spin and a wrestling match between Jeff Bridges and Troy Hawkins, both of whom were dressed in rotund, padded outfits that made them look a bit like the Michelin Man.
But the real star of the show, in essence, was Parker, who died of cancer in the summer of 1980 at the age of 14. According to Jeff Whittaker, a local pastor and catcher for the Vintage Vikings who organized Saturday's benefit, the Brian Parker Foundation was formed in 1982.
An annual golf outing has been raising about $20,000 a year ever since, with half the money going to the University of Notre Dame and the other half going to the University of Michigan.
Whittaker, who himself graduated from high school as a classmate of Parker's older sister, Stacey, said that this year's charity golf outing at the Indian Lake golf course went well and had 80 foursomes.
Notably, this was the first time the Vintage Vikings in their five-year history have participated in a benefit in memory of Parker. The Niles area men also take part in other charity events.
Mills Prestige Photography donated T-shirts for the Vintage Vikings for Saturday's game, and Wal-Mart donated practice baseballs.