Erik Kratz is catching a dream

EMU alum Erik Kratz is gearing up to begin the 2013 MLB season as starting catcher for the Philadelphia Phillies. Photo by Miles Kennedy

Erik Kratz, a 2002 Eastern Mennonite University graduate, went from taking pictures for fans to being the subject of their pictures during a roller-coaster 2012 Major League Baseball season with the Philadelphia Phillies. Spring training for the 2013 season began in February and fans believe Kratz is poised for a stellar season as starting catcher.

“It’s an honor to make the big leagues and I’m very blessed,” Kratz said in fall 2012, reflecting on his season as a part-time starting catch for the Philadelphia Phillies. “I’m very blessed.”

Kratz was a relative unknown to Phillies fans even in early 2012 – sometimes taking pictures for them when asked as they posed with more recognizable players. But after catchers Carlos Ruiz and Brian Schneider suffered injuries, Kratz moved into the starting role in early August and ended the season hitting .270 with five home runs and 12 RBI, including a game-winning home run off all-star closer Craig Kimbrel of the Atlanta Braves.

Thanks to his heroics, Kratz was the center of attention during a subsequent charity event sponsored by a Phillies teammate with fans clamoring to see their new-found star, according to a report.

“I’m just blessed and honored to be playing the game I love,” said Kratz, who towers above most people at 6-foot 4-inches, 255 pounds.

EMU alum Erik Kratz

EMU alum Erik Kratz

A native of Telford, Pennsylvania, Kratz received praise from teammates during his time as a starting catcher.

“He did a great job [in 2012],” Roy Halladay said to, who picked up a win with Kratz behind the plate. “We’re fortunate. Carlos [Ruiz] is irreplaceable, but Kratz is very intelligent. He does a great job calling a game.”

“He’s Thor,” added Kevin Frandsen in comparing his teammate to a hammer-wielding god of Norse mythology.

Charlie Manuel, who manages the Phillies, added that Kratz has proven his value “as a backup catcher – at the last – in the big leagues” during a press conference before the Phillies last series of the season.

“He’s strong, he’s durable, he definitely showed he can call the game, he definitely showed that he can throw. He’s shown he can hit a home run. I look at him and I say, we got better if Kratz becomes our backup catcher,” said Manuel.

Called to the Hall

EMU graduate Erik Kratz

Kratz was inducted to the Hall of Honor at EMU during Homecoming in October 2012.

EMU inducted Kratz into its Athletics Hall of Honor on Oct. 13 during its Homecoming and Family Weekend. During the ceremony ­- where he shared the spotlight with EMU’s 1980 field hockey team, also entering the Hall of Honor – Kratz said it was “cool” to return to EMU.

“It means the world to me to have my friends, coaches and those that are the most important to me here. The stories and memories we have, from being on bus trips to Florida or being in class, they’re just special to me.”

At EMU, Kratz was the Old Dominion Athletic Conference Player of the Year in 2001 and 2002, claiming an NCAA record for career doubles with 77. During his senior season, he set single-season school records with 72 hits, 48 runs, 25 doubles, 14 home runs, 59 RBIs and a .507 batting average.

He graduated as the school’s all-time leader in career hits (220), home runs (33), doubles (77), RBIs (159), runs (147), batting average (.415), slugging percentage (.762) and total bases (404). In addition, Kratz was behind the plate for each pitch during his four-year EMU career.

EMU alumni Erik and Sarah Kratz and their children

EMU alumni Erik and Sarah Kratz and their children

Kratz thanked his wife, Sarah, a 2001 EMU graduate and mother to his two sons and newborn daughter, for her support during his 11-year minor league career.

“I thank the Lord every day for my family, friends and the chance to play a game. The Internet will always keep my stats, but I’ll forever keep my friends and family.”

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This article was published March 27, 2013.