I’m kind of genetically configured to root for the underdog. I’ve been an Apple/Mac user since 1986. I’ve been a Red Sox fan for about that long (take out The Francona Era and that’s a lot of underdoggedness). I listen to indie rock. And I love baseball players that don’t have the god-given talent, but man, they make the most of what they have.
Pete Incaviglia had one god-given talent—raw, uncontrolled power. The man could bash a baseball. He skipped the minors (after clubbing 100 NCAA homers, still a record) and went right to the big leagues after he ripped a part of the wall down in spring training with a line drive. He clubbed 30 homers that rookie year. But he also struck out a rookie record 185 times. He’s swung as hard as he could in case he hit it. The problem is, pitchers figured out what he couldn’t hit.
But the man still tried. If he ran into a wall trying to catch a fly ball, he shook his head, got back up, and heaved the ball to the infield. There’s a reason teams kept giving him chances. If you’re a jackass, it’s much easier to let you fade into unemployement (see Bonds, Barry). Inky was a gamer.
For these reasons, I was a huge fan. Many years back, I built a small website dedicated to Inky, his college career, and his unheralded but entertaining big league career. More recently, I even recorded an episode for the Baseball History Podcast dedicated to Inky.
This year, after taking a year off following three years coaching in the Tigers system, Inky has his first regular season managerial gig. He’s at the helm of an independent team in the American Association, the brand new Grand Prarie AirHogs.
Last week, I got this email:
Hello, I am the media relations director with the Grand Prairie AirHogs baseball team. We are a new independent league team in the American Association and Pete Incaviglia is going to be our manager for the first season. I stumbled onto your website searching for information on him, and noticed you had a very well pieced together biography on him (I assume you wrote it?). I wanted to know if I could get your permission to use that biography (or at least parts of it) in our inaugural game program. I would absolutely credit you for writing it and would even make sure to get you an autographed copy of the program (signed by Pete of course). Let me know if this sounds ok, your website looked real sharp.
I said yes.
How cool is that? Turns out that after all these years, that little web site I made ranks third on Google when you search for “Pete Incaviglia”, right after mega-sites Baseball-Reference.com and Wikipedia.
Hard to believe there aren’t more sites dedicated to the all time home run leader among players with names beginning with “I”…