Turn Back The Ranger Clock
Player From The Rangers' Past
This Week - Pete Incaviglia
Pete Incaviglia will not be elected into the Hall of Fame any time soon, nor will he be remembered as one of the greatest Rangers to ever don a blue cap. One thing about "Inky" is for certain; every Ranger fan definitely has feelings for him. As a Ranger fan, you either loved him or you loathed him. It was amazing to me to see how fans reacted to "Inky's" play. Two fans could be watching the same play and both fans see totally opposite things. Picture two fans witnessing "Inky" slam into the outfield wall while trying to make a catch. He falls backwards, and does two back somersaults. Inky is lying in a cloud of dust while the ball is rolling around on the grass. One fan calls "Inky" a worthless klutz while the other fan is praising Inky for his hustle. Either way, you can't deny the mark that Pete Incaviglia left at Arlington Stadium.
Incaviglia was a story before he even played in his first game as a Ranger. He came out of college very highly touted after winning the 1985 Baseball Americas Player of the Year award while playing at Oklahoma State. The Montreal Expos drafted him in the 1st round, but he refused to play for them. Incaviglia actually demanded a trade to the Rangers. The Rangers were interested and traded 2 players to the Expos for Inky. He lived up to the hype during Spring Training in 1986. In a batting practice session, Pete actually hit a ball through the outfield wall…360 feet from home plate.
The Rangers were so impressed with Incaviglia, that he won a spot on the Opening Day roster, skipping the Minor Leagues entirely. He became one of the very few players in history to jump straight from college to the pros. He delivered too, hitting 30 homers in 1986, his rookie year. His defense left a lot to be desired and he swung at anything and everything, striking out 185 times in 1986. The Rangers wrote it off to the fact that Pete was a rookie and worked diligently with Inky in the off-season to try and improve these areas.
His strikeout totals did begin to fall, but they were just still too high. His BA slowly declined and his OF play was flat embarrassing at times. He never lost his power, but he was nothing more than a one-dimensional player. It was hard not to like Inky though. After watching him flail at a curveball in the dirt, he would go into the field and dive face first across the OF grass in an attempt to get to a fly ball. And who can forget Inky's face first slide into the bag?
Eventually the Rangers had to let him go. Pete bounced around the league. He served time with the Tigers, Phillies, Astros, Orioles, and Phillies. His love of the game even took him to Japan and Mexico. His career should have ended in 1994 when he crashed into an OF wall while playing for the Phillies. He severely injured his shoulder, but he played through the pain for 4 more years until opting for surgery. His shoulder problems clearly were effecting his play. Pete will always be remembered as a Ranger, albeit good or bad. But one thing is certain, when he retired; he was tied for 8th place on the Rangers career HR list. He was, and still is, tied with fan favorite Toby Harrah with 124 dingers. No one can take that away from him.