Eastern Mennonite University alumnus Erik Kratz ’02 ended his Major League Baseball career with an announcement on Twitter Friday (view below). He played 19 seasons of professional baseball, following a standout career at EMU.
Kratz was an All-American in the early 2000s and ODAC Player of the Year in 2001 and 2002. His #14 jersey is retired at EMU.
Kratz appeared in games for nine different MLB teams, including multiple stints with Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and the New York Yankees. He was with the Kansas City Royals during the 2014 World Series, and earned a World Series ring from the Royals in 2015. View more career highlights here.
“I want to add my congratulations and thanks to Erik for a career that has represented the true essence of sport, playing for the love of the game,” said Dave King, director of athletics. “He has truly embodied what EMU athletics are all about on a national and international stage. He knows that success isn’t always found in the score or the statistics or a starting role but rather in commitment to the craft, being ready to take advantage of opportunities, and constantly working in and out of the season to improve himself and those around him. Erik’s faith is foundational to his life, work and relationships. I’m grateful for the many opportunities that he’s provided for our athletes to learn from his example.”
Kratz’s final season as a professional player — he made it clear in his announcement he was not closing doors to other roles — was with the Yankees. He played in 16 games, hitting .321 with no homers and four RBI, and was on their American League Wild Card roster and also available for the Division Series.
He was EMU’s 2019 Alumnus of the Year, after contributing to the Milwaukee Brewers’ National League Divisional Series. (At least one media outlet at the time named him the “Best Story of the 2018 MLB Postseason.”)
Later that fall, he was named to the U.S. Olympic baseball team and earned All-World honors at the first of three qualifying tournaments the team was slated to participate in. (The US team failed to advance there; further tournaments, and the summer Olympics, were cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.)
His skill in building relationships with pitchers, and teammates in general, has led to murmurs of a coaching career. Here’s the most recent (of many) public pleas, from Fansided (11/9): ” After all, when you play and make an impact nearly everywhere over the course of a decade, you’re going to be highly sought-after,” writes Adam Weinrib in a post titled “Yankees must get Erik Kratz on coaching staff after retirement announcement.”
Kratz and his wife Sarah Troyer Kratz ’02 have three children — and a puppy. He had told his daughter they could have a dog only after he played his last game. “We bought the puppy, and we’re enjoying it,” he says in the retirement announcement via video. “It’s time to be home.”