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Pete Incaviglia and his 'once in a lifetime' collegiate career headed to Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame

Berry Tramel: We'll always remember Inky's home runs at Oklahoma State.
by Berry Tramel Modified: July 30, 2010 at 5:26 pm •  Published: July 30, 2010

Gary Ward went poaching in the summer of 1982. The Oklahoma State baseball coach, buoyed by two straight Big Eight championships, scanned the draft picks of the financially-strapped San Francisco Giants.

Ward went after the Giants' second-round pick. Fellow by the name of Bonds. Barry Bonds. Would have gotten Bonds, too, Ward says, if OSU had accepted Bonds' high school P.E. credits.

Ward went after the Giants' 10th-round pick. Fellow by the name of Incaviglia. Pete Incaviglia. Got him, too.

One hundred college home runs and 25 years later, Incaviglia goes into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. Inky enters with the title of greatest college baseball player of the 20th century, bestowed by Baseball America in 1999.

Incaviglia hit 23 home runs as a 1983 freshman, 29 as a 1984 sophomore and a monstrous 48 as a 1985 junior. That's 100 home runs in 213 college games.

"A once in a lifetime event," Ward says of Incaviglia's power surge in Stillwater. "I don't think we'll see it again until college baseball moves to the summer and plays 100 games a year."

And maybe not even then.

That's what we remember about Inky, all those home runs, or maybe one in particular — I'll never forget his moon shot against OU in Stillwater as a freshman which seemed to clear the softball park beyond Reynolds Stadium's left-field wall.

But more subtle memories flood Ward when he thinks about the player who more than any other solidified Ward's status as a hitting guru.

* Incaviglia's brother, Tony, who played at Arizona and got to know Ward when he was coaching Yavapi (Ariz.) Junior College.

Scout Hank Sauer told Ward that Incaviglia, coming out of high school in Pebble Beach, Calif., was a "major league hitter."

Tony Incaviglia spoke up for OSU, and his little brother trumped Pistol as the school's greatest Pete.

* Incaviglia's work ethic. Incaviglia came across as a fun-loving, unshaven natural who fell out of bed, grabbed a bat and hit home runs.

Untrue. Incaviglia was very serious about hitting and it didn't come easy to him. He had to work.

"Raw," Ward said in describing Incaviglia. "Really crude (as a hitter). But he worked harder than any player."

Incaviglia went through a series of swing routines, 30 to 45 minutes of tosses and touches, every day.

Ward said Incavilgia wasn't kinetic-oriented. Didn't have good muscle memory. "What you told him Friday had to be repeated Monday," Ward said. "That's just the way he was."

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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The Oklahoman is conducting a series on the five inductees into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. The induction banquet will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Tickets are available for $150 per person. Call Pat Foster or Shirley Griffin at 405-427-1400 for more details:

Friday: Michele Smith

Today: Pete Incaviglia

Sunday: Rick Bryan

Monday: Troy Aikman

Tuesday: Don Demeter

If you missed Friday's article on Michele Smith, keyword search: Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.


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