Christo­pher Dock hon­ors brik Kratz

North Penn Life - - Sports - By Alexan­der Gross For Mont­gomery Me­dia

rik Kratz is in the hall of fame. It’s not Coop­er­stown, but still an honor for the Christo­pher Dock alum.

To this point in his ca­reer, you might call the Philadel­phia Phillies catcher a pro­fes­sional jour­ney­man, nav­i­gat­ing through the wa­ters of the Mi­nor League Base­ball sys­tem since be­ing drafted in 2002 by the Toronto Blue Jays. But, life’s knack of com­ing full circle was in full ef­fect Fri­day night as Kratz re­turned home to re­ceive a hum­bling award as part of the high school’s Homecoming week­end fes­tiv­i­ties.

At the cer­e­mony, he was in­tro­duced by Prin­ci­pal Con­rad Swartzen­tru­ber, who started off with some lev­ity. “brik has the keen God-given abil­ity to throw run­ners out from his knees.”

Swartzen­tru­ber pre­sented Kratz with his framed num­ber 31 Phillies jersey, which will be on dis­play in the school’s main hall as a source of pride and in­spi­ra­tion to fol­low faith and reach for the stars.

It’s been a road com­monly trav­eled for thou­sands of base­ball play­ers, grind­ing it out in the mi­nor leagues wait­ing for that big break that for most never arrive. Kratz has made it how­ever, through a blend of de­ter­mi­na­tion, faith and fam­ily, turn­ing his dreams into re­al­ity.

At 32-years-old, brik Kratz is a Ma­jor League base­ball player.

He’s reached the prover­bial moun­tain­top of suc­cess play­ing the game at its high­est level. But, to Kratz and those sit­ting in Dock’s au­di­to­rium as he re­ceived the voung Alumni of the vear KRnRU DORnJ wLWK WKH fiUVW ever lut­stand­ing Ath­letic Achieve­ment award, Kratz “made” it a long time be­fore don­ning a Phillies uni­form.

The voung Alumni award is an honor given based on a demon­stra­tion of aca­demic, spir­i­tual and life­styles prac­tices.

“The Ath­letic award is cool, but re­ceiv­ing this Alumni award is spe­cial,” Kratz said. “I hope it’s UHflHFWLYH RI WKH wRUN ,’YH GRnH RII WKH fiHOG DV wHOO.”

Kratz’s grounded mind­set LV UHflHFWLYH RI WKLV WLJKW-NnLW area he grew up in, a trib­ute to his strong fam­ily up­bring­ing and cul­ture at Christo­pher Dock that pro­vided him with the un­der­stand­ing that suc­cess starts with a strong bond of faith, fam­ily and community. As a 1998 grad­u­ate of Dock, Kratz still holds to the teachings that were in­stilled to him by his school and the teach­ers within the in­sti­tu­tion’s walls. We see it time and time again where a me­te­oric rise can change a per­son, but Kratz’s list of pro­pri­eties has never wa­vered.

Hus­band, fa­ther, man of faith and community still come be­fore the game of base­ball.

Kratz sees his pri­or­ity struc­ture as a means to ex­cel in the Ma­jors Leagues, not a detri­ment. Faith and his fam­ily are his top mo­ti­va­tions in life, a foun­da­tion and con­stant pil­lar of strength for ev­ery­thing he has achieved.

“Faith isn’t a role,” Kratz said. “It’s ev­ery­thing I NnRw. ,W GHfinLWHOy KHOSHG me get through the tri­als of the mi­nor league sys­tem. I would see other guys around me break down men­tally, but prayer kept me emo­tion­ally strong and ready for the next chal­lenge.”

Kratz had great suc­cess while play­ing col­le­giate base­ball at bastern Men­non­ite Univer­sity in Vir­ginia achiev­ing lld Do­min­ion Ath­letic Con­fer­ence Player of the vear in 2001 and 2002. He is the school’s all-time leader in ca­reer hits (220), home runs (33), dou­bles (77), RBI (159), runs (147), bat­ting av­er­age (.415), slug­ging per­cent­age (.762) and to­tal bases (404).

“A lot of peo­ple have tal­ent, that’s why you’re an all-star in high school and col­lege. It’s the hard work that gets you to the pro­fes­sional level,” said Kratz, lift­ing his framed jersey for fans to snap some pho­tos of the 6-4, 255-pound right-handed Phillies catcher.

Prior to the 2011 sea­son, Kratz signed a mi­nor league deal with the Phillies. His fiUVW PDMRU OHDJuH KRPH Uun came on May 22, a solo blast against the Na­tional League Division ri­val Na­tion­als.

His ca­reer turn­ing point came on July 17, 2012. The Phillies were play­ing the Hous­ton Astros on a hu­mid day at Cit­i­zens Bank Park. This was a GHfinLnJ PRPHnW IRU .UDWz as he blasted a game-ty­ing three-run homer in the eighth in­ning. The Phillies ended up win­ning the JDPH 8-7 DnG VROLGL­fiHG Kratz with a larger role in the Phillies or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“It did help me com­ing up through the mi­nors to be able and look back on the suc­cess I had in col­lege and use it at the next level,” Kratz said. “I did pray about reach­ing the ma­jors a lot, but even now I still put faith and fam­ily above all else.”

Praise from man­ager Char­lie Manuel and team­mates only raised Kratz’s FRn­fiGHnFH IRU WKLV uSFRPing sea­son. In his short-time with the Phillies, Kratz has al­ready formed a strong bond with man­ager Char­lie Manuel.

“I at­tribute my suc­cess to Char­lie. Noth­ing re­ally changed in my game, but he gave me an op­por­tu­nity by putting me in po­si­tions to suc­ceed. Char­lie’s FRn­fiGHnFH Ln Py DELOLWLHV has helped a lot and for this up­com­ing sea­son I just have to continue to make ad­just­ments and di­min­ish my weak­nesses.”

Kratz was called up to the club at a time when they were ex­pe­ri­enc­ing some­thing for­eign Ln UHFHnW yHDUV, fiJKWLnJ from be­hind to make an end of sea­son push for the playoffs.

“As a team, we were all pretty sur­prised to not make the playoffs,” Kratz said. “We made a valiant run at the end of the year, EuW IHOO VKRUW. ,’P FRn­fiGHnW that next sea­son hav­ing a healthy group of guys will make a big dif­fer­ence.”

The team might have been strug­gling, but the club­house re­mained strong, some­thing Kratz could re­late to with his up­bring­ing and time at Christo­pher Dock.

“There are ob­vi­ously other play­ers in the club house of Chris­tian faith,” brik said. “I think it can help with locker room bonds, but if you say you’re a Chris­tian in too much of a force­ful way it can also de­tract from chem­istry. vou just have to re­main the same guy.”

Kratz’s wife, Sarah, whom he met while play­ing base­ball at bastern Men­non­ite Univer­sity was un­able to at­tend the cer­e­mony. She was home in Har­rison­burg, Va. car­ing for their 15-day­old baby girl Avery, born a day af­ter the Phillies sea­son came to a close. How­ever, a cou­ple of brik’s big­gest fans were there for sup­port; his two sons.

“My boys are huge base­ball fans,” said Kratz with a big smile and glim­mer of pride in his eyes as his boys were sport­ing Phillies jer­seys. “lf course, they both re­ally like the Phillies.”

While start­ing catcher Car­los Ruiz was injured, .UDWz fiOOHG Ln DGPLUDEOy finLVKLnJ WKH 2012 FDPSDLJn with nine home runs, 26 RBI, and an ex­tra-base hit in 14.2 per­cent of his plate ap­pear­ances, the high­est for any player with at least 120 plate ap­pear­ances.

“Catch­ing for Roy Hal­la­day is…well, you don’t have enough tape for how great it is to catch for this pitch­ing staff,” Kratz chuck­led. “As a catcher, it’s more grat­i­fy­ing to help my team mates suc­ceed than my own per­sonal suc­cess. It’s team suc­cess and know­ing that I can help the pitch­ers do well that is most re­ward­ing.”

His rap­port with Ruiz has al­ready blos­somed into a sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship dur­ing Kratz’s short time with the team.

“It re­ally was amaz­ing the bond Car­los and I de­vel­oped since I was called up,” Kratz said. “We are al­ways vo­cal, talk­ing to one an­other and pick­ing each other’s brains. He has so much ex­pe­ri­ence at the Ma­jor League level and has seen al­most ev­ery pitch imag­in­able. But, there are also things I might see that he didn’t so we are able to help each other out.”

When brik Kratz hits a home run, his post-cel­e­bra­tion is un­con­ven­tional, but couldn’t be more heart­felt DnG UHDO. HH EuPSV KLV fiVWV WRJHWKHU fiYH WLPHV, RnH IRU his wife, three for his chil­dren, and one to the heav­ens to honor his faith in God. In the sports realm, where empty ges­tures are com­mon place, it’s re­fresh­ing to know that Kratz still holds the val­ues and tra­di­tions he re­ceived while at­tend­ing Christo­pher Dock close to his heart.

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