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Oct. 3, 2011 issue

Ballplayer feels right at home

By Sheldon C. Good Mennonite Weekly Review

As a child, Erik Kratz dreamed of playing baseball for his hometown Philadelphia Phillies. On Sept. 20, not only did he play, he started.

After spending most of 10 professional seasons in the minors and appearing in just nine major-league games, Kratz, 31, made his Phillies debut against the Washington Nationals.

A native of Telford, Pa., Kratz is a member of Souderton (Pa.) Mennonite Church. He graduated from Christopher Dock Mennonite High School in Lansdale, Pa., and Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va.

“Growing up in the area, it was something you always dreamt of,” Kratz said of playing for the Phillies.

But a decade into professional ball, his goal now is to just be in the big leagues. “You have to follow the opportunities while they’re out there,” he said.

In his Phillies debut, Kratz, a catcher, made a close out at the plate, which earned him the No. 2 spot on ESPN’s Top 10 Plays of the Day. Watch video of the play here:

Though he will always savor replays of that out, Kratz said the sound of hitting a double in the 10th inning — his first Phillies hit — is most prominently etched in his mind.

“Until [the ball] landed and hit the ground, the crowd was just cheering,” he said. “I just remember it being such a loud, loud sound … one of the loudest cheers I’ve ever had for one of my hits, that’s for sure.”

Every winter until 2009, Kratz worked a construction job in Harrisonburg, Va., to support his wife, Sarah, and two sons, Brayden, 4, and Ethan, 2. The Kratzes recently bought a house in Harrison- burg.

In 2009 the Pittsburgh Pirates picked Kratz up and assigned him to their Triple-A affiliate Indianapolis Indians, where he spent most of 2009 and 2010.

Kratz made his major-league debut July 17, 2010, for the Pirates. He played in nine games for Pittsburgh.

The Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Phillies, acquired Kratz in the 2010 off-season.

He was an International League all-star in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

The Toronto Blue Jays selected Kratz in the 29th round of the 2002 amateur draft. He played seven years in the Blue Jays organization.

Through Sept. 26, Kratz had played two games for the Phillies, with two hits in six at bats.

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