Inside Goshen College’s athletics building, metallic “pings” pricked the air as bat-wielding kids hit — and missed — balls thrown by Goshen baseball players. Murmurs of conversation gurgled in the background.
Then Erik Kratz stepped to the plate. His bat met the first pitch he saw, producing a thunderous crash that reverberated throughout the room. All other sounds seemingly vanished. Then he did it again. And again. And again.
That’s a lot of noise by one of the quiet in the land.
Kratz is a member of Harrisonburg (Va.) Mennonite Church and a graduate of Christopher Dock High School in Lansdale, Pa., and Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg. He is also a 14-year veteran of professional baseball and the only known Mennonite church member to play in the major leagues.
Kratz’s recent odyssey through the major leagues is outlined in a Mennonite World Review article covering his Jan. 18 baseball clinic at Goshen College and a later speaking engagement — a fundraiser for the Waterford Mennonite Church youth group, where he shared stories and reflections from his career.
According to MLB.com, Kratz signed with the San Diego Padres in November.
One of the most startling statistics of his All-American career at EMU was that he caught every game, and all nine innings of every game, of his four-year career. He was twice named ODAC Player of the Year.
Kratz was drafted in the 29th round of the 2002 amateur draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. He then played for 10 teams in three countries — Canada and the Dominican Republic as well as the United States — during the next eight years before making his major league debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2010.
He was elected to the Royals Hall of Honor in 2012 and his jersey number (#14) was retired. He and Sarah Troyer ’01 Kratz have three children.