Despite being injured for most of the time, April 18 to May 21st was quite possibly the best month of Frank Catalanotto’s baseball career. During that time, sandwiched around a trip to the disabled list, he was 10 for 10 with 3 walks, setting a Texas Ranger record for most consecutive times reaching base safely. That type of production was something that Catalanotto was no stranger to, despite bouncing between 6 teams during his 14 season Major League career.
Frank Catalanotto was drafted in the 10th round of the 1992 draft by the Detroit Tigers. Originally a second baseman, he ended up playing the outfield and first and third during his career before it was over. Never a power hitter, the left-handed batter displayed good plate discipline and a high batting average in the minors before finally getting called up by the Tigers and making his debut on September 3, 1997, drawing a walk in a pinch hitting appearance against Chad Fox and the Braves.
Catalanotto was a very solid player who did a little bit of everything. His career year came in 2001 with the Texas Rangers? That season he was 5th in the American League with a .330 average, chipping in 11 home runs, 54 RBI, and even a career high 15 stolen bases. During his Major League career, which spanned 1997 until 2010, he played for the Tigers, Rangers, Blue Jays, the Rangers again, the Brewers, and the Mets in his final season. He played a total of 1265 games, compiling a ,291 batting average with 84 home runs and 457 RBI. He also killed my beloved Red Sox, hitting .314 with 11 home runs and 52 RBI against them, his best overall numbers against any one team. More information on his career statistics is available at http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/c/catalfr01.shtml .
A Long Island Native, Catalanotto is an advocate of Little League and youth baseball and has also developed a loyal following on Twitter. He has nearly 4000 Twitter followers who still track him as he tries to spread a love of baseball to others. Players like Frank Catalanotto are what make professional baseball worthwhile. He got the most out of his talent and used it to forge an impressive career that lasted more than a decade. As opposed to bowing out of the game when he retired, he has continued to spread his appreciation of the game and will undoubtedly continue to have an impact on baseball for years to come.
Frank Catalanotto Interview:
How did you first become interested in baseball?: I've loved baseball for as long as I could remember. My dad started playing baseball with me in the backyard when I was 2 or 3.
What was the draft process like when you got picked by the Tigers in 1992?:Getting drafted was awesome. It was a dream come true. The process after I was drafted was a tough one. I had a scholarship to Seton Hall and couldn't decide whether to sign with the Tigers or go to school. Getting an education was very important to me and my family. It wasn't until the Tigers had put a clause in the contract that said that if I decided to quit baseball they would help pay for some of my schooling. That made my decision easier.
Who was your favorite coach or manager?: My favorite coach and manager was Larry Parrish. He was my mentor in the minor leagues and wound up being my hitting coach and manager in the major leagues at one point. He not only revamped my swing but he also taught me the mental part of the game.
Who was the biggest character you ever played with or against?: The biggest character I've ever played with was Luis Gonzalez. He was always up to something, pulling pranks in the clubhouse every night. You always had to watch your back when he was around.
What was your favorite moment from your playing career?: I've had a lot of great moments in my career that I will never forget. Like my first major league hit. But I think my favorite moment from my playing career was going 6 for 6 in a game against the White Sox in Chicago.
Did you have a favorite stadium or city?: My favorite city to play in was Boston. Fenway Park was always rocking with some of the best fans in baseball. My favorite stadium to play in was the Ballpark in Arlington. It was a hitter’s paradise.
Who was the toughest pitcher that you faced?: The toughest pitcher that I faced was Pedro Martinez. I could never figure him out. His changeup was unhittable.
Is there anything you would do differently if you could do your playing career over?: I wouldn't have changed anything in my career. I was very blessed to have played for as long as I did with a lot of great players and great people as well.
How many autograph requests do you typically get and what do you think of collectors?: I still get fan mail sent to me and I love it. I obviously don't get as many as I did when I was playing so it is very manageable. I have no problem with collectors. I think it is a great hobby and I am always willing to help people fill their collections.
What do you plan to do now that you are no longer playing?: Now I am spending time at home with my wife and four girls. I am launching a vitamin and sport supplement company in about a month or two, helping coach the Italian National Team and running summer baseball camps on Long Island.