Pete Incaviglia grew up in the Bay Area in California. He became one of the most prolific home run hitters in NCAA history at Oklahoma State. He went straight to the Major Leagues and played with six different teams. He later played in Japan for a year and spent part of another season in Mexico.
Incaviglia kept going even after his big league career was over in 1998 -- in the Minors and even the independent leagues. He put in three years as hitting coach for the Tigers' Double-A Erie Seawolves farm team. So it's not surprising that, at 49, he's still in the game. He just finished his fifth year as a manager in the independent American Association, his second with the Laredo Lemurs.
It's also not surprising that, as many places as he's been and as many teams as he's played for, the 1993 Phillies remain a special memory.
"Crazy, I can't believe it's been 20 years," he said. "There were so many amazing things about that ballclub. We kind of came out of nowhere. Nobody was looking for the Phillies to do anything that year. There were so many great memories. So many great comebacks."
Platooning with Milt Thompson in left field, he tied Darren Daulton for the team lead in homers (24) and drove in 89 runs ... in just 368 at-bats. He was just one of the many great stories on a club that was embraced by the region even though it came up just short of winning the World Series.
"The bottom line was we were going to do whatever it took to win ballgames," Incaviglia said. "Go out and grind. We were kind of a blue-collar team, and I think the fans enjoyed the way we played baseball. We were a bunch of nuts. We slid hard and took people out and got dirty. We played for each other. We played for that dream of putting a ring on our finger. I know we didn't, but every one of those guys who was in the dugout feels like a champion."
Manager Jim Fregosi did a masterful job mixing and matching that season, and not just in left. Jim Eisenreich and Wes Chamberlain split time in right. Mariano Duncan wasn't considered a regular but started 110 games at second base or shortstop. Incaviglia said he learned a lot about managing that year that he's applied to his current position.
"I think a lot of what he did rubbed off on me. I think Jimmy was one of the few people who could have managed that ballclub," he said. "It was a cast of characters. He had to deal with so many different personalities. And he dealt with everybody on their own terms. I think I do that now. I don't treat everybody the same. I treat everybody differently. And I think I learned that from Jimmy.
"He was a great manager and a great motivator. I think he knew his players very well. He was always walking around and asking, 'How's your family doing?' He took an interest in you personally. So there's no question that there's a large piece of Jim Fregosi in me when I manage."
And Incaviglia has taken to the role.
"I love managing. I really enjoy it," he said. "I like working with the kids and still being in uniform. I feel very fortunate because this is something I love to do every day. I'm still putting a uniform on. I can't complain. The game was really good to me and I feel like this is the best way I can give back."
As a manager, he wants to instill the all-for-one style that allowed the '93 Phillies team to achieve more than the sum of its parts.
"Trying to teach the kids how to have an approach and a plan and how to play the game properly," Incaviglia said. "Finding other reasons than yourself for playing the game. Playing with unselfishness, playing a little team baseball. We weren't really into numbers. We were into winning ballgames. Whatever we could do to make the ballclub better. There weren't a whole lot of egos. We were all kind of on the same page."
He's also realistic. He knows the game has changed.
"There's such scrutiny of everything every player does," he said. "And there's a stat for everything. There's a stat for how fast they walk from home plate to the dugout. You know what I mean? I'm kind of from that old school. So you can sprinkle in a little of those sabermetrics, but I don't think you can get rid of those old-school fundamentals that have been the foundation of baseball for a hundred years."
Baseball has taken Incaviglia a lot of places. He said he'd be perfectly happy spending the next 15 years doing exactly what he's doing now. And as long as does, he'll pass down the lessons he learned with the Phillies in 1993.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.