On June 19, Joe Inglett was a 27-year-old Triple-A utility man, scratching and clawing to earn a shot at the big time. Drafted by the Indians in 2000, Inglett was a career .330 Triple-A hitter coming into this season. On June 20, Inglett received the call he has dreamed about getting all his life. With two starting outfielders on the disabled list, the Indians had purchased his contract from Triple-A Buffalo. He was going to The Show. "They didn't [tell me]," Inglett said with a laugh. "It was just a big surprise, if anything. I was sitting at home, doing what I normally do, just relaxing, and I missed three phone calls. And my manager's like, 'What the [heck] are you doing? Where you at?' He's like, 'You're going to the big leagues.'"
Inglett's reaction to the news? "Oh my God," Inglett relayed. "I can't believe it. I mean, it's a dream come true." Not surprisingly, Inglett now has a lot more friends than he did a week ago. "I mean, [I get] a lot more phone calls," he said. "My phone's been ringing off the hook, which is nice. I have a lot of supporters, and that makes me feel real good. It makes me want to go do what I do." But after the callup, Inglett got to make a call of his own: to his family. "It was cool. I called my dad, and he's pretty reserved," Inglett said. "He didn't say much. But when I told my mom she was screaming 'Aaaaaah!' She flew into Cleveland [the day I was promoted]. All of my family was excited. We've all been waiting for this a long time." The drive from Buffalo to Cleveland is three hours and 15 minutes, and the scenery is rarely inspiring. But for Inglett, the time flew. "It was short and sweet, man," Inglett said. "I got here and was ready." He received his first playing time on June 21, when he took over at second base late in a loss to the Cubs. But his first start in the big leagues came June 24 in left field; when he talked to the media after the game, his face glowed. "You can't ask for anything more," Inglett said. "The big-league atmosphere, just being out there..."
Of course, the first ball of the game was hit to Inglett. He handled it without incident.
"Oh, absolutely, it [the fly ball] got the butterflies out real quick," Inglett said. "It kind of got me settled into the game, and calmed me down."
In preparation for his future role as a utility man, Inglett had played several positions in Buffalo. He would rotate between shortstop, second base, left field and center field. It's the kind of versatility that endears players to managers.
"Yeah, it certainly does," he said. "When a situation comes up, I can be the guy who comes off the bench, pinch-hits, or go play defense."
His first Major League at-bat ended in a groundout to the pitcher. But at least he'll never go down in history as Moonlight Graham.
"I was looking for something to hit," Inglett said. "I came out of my shoes a little bit, which I normally don't do, which is excitement. Now that I have a couple [at-bats,] hopefully, gradually, I'll settle down a lot more."
Inglett was able to retrieve a souvenir of his first start.
"I didn't get the ball," Inglett said. "But I did get the lineup card."
: : : This Edition: June 28, 2006 : : :
Andrew Bare is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.