Friday’s winner is Brett Gardner; he will move on to face Mo Vaughn in the sweet sixteen.
- Erik Kratz got here by defeating Chad Tracy in the previous round: 77.8% to 22.2%. This is what I posted for him the last time: “[Kratz] is a local- he is an EMU grad. His number hangs on the outfield fence in Park View, and he was the alumni of the year just this past fall. Kratz was drafted in the 29th round in 2002 by the Toronto Blue Jays, and has played in the majors in parts of 10 different seasons (so far). He was a hero for the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2018 NLDS against the Rockies, when he went 5-8 at the plate, with a double and an RBI. He also made some waves at the time by proving to be a fun and interesting interview. He’s back with the New York Yankees for the 2020 season, assuming it will be played at some point.”
- Johnny Oates was not quite as local as Kratz, although he not far off- he attended Virginia Tech. He was the tenth overall pick of the Baltimore Orioles in 1967. He made his major league debut on September 17, 1970, and went on to play 11 years with five different teams. His best year was in 1972 with the Orioles, when he hit .261/.332/.364 in 253 at-bats. Interestingly, he played in 533 games in the field- every single one of them at catcher- it doesn’t appear that he played any other position ever. In his career, in 1,637 at-bats, Oates hit .250/.309.313. Of course, he went on to manage in the majors as well, also for 11 years. He won three AL West titles with the Texas Rangers (1996, 1998, 1999), and was the 1996 Manager of the Year. He was inducted into the VBL Hall of Fame in 2016.
Vote by going to twitter.com/JohnATVL to vote! (Closes Sunday morning)
And by the way, if you want to read much, much more about the 2019 VBL season, be sure to check out the 2019 Valley League Annual! (Or 2015, too, for that matter.)