Christopher Dock honors brik Kratz
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.