Mennonite At Work: Erik Kratz, Catcher, Actor, Turkey Bacon Pitchman

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He was a very effective minor league player, but it took a long time for Philadelphia Phillies catcher Erik Kratz to get to the major leagues, and Carlos Ruiz’s unconvincing self-diagnosis of ADHD to keep him there. All it will take for Erik Kratz to earn a spot in your head, forever, is his recent series of commercials for Godshall’s Turkey Bacon.

Kratz did three commercials for Godshall’s, which according to (um) sources, is owned by Kratz’s father; at the very least, the company is based in Kratz’s hometown of Telford, Pa. and employs someone named Floyd Kratz (he’s on LinkedIn!) as its senior vice president. There have been false hopes in the past of Mennonite Eastern Pennsylvanian Phillies being related to snack food empire, most painfully with non-potato chip heir Tommy Herr; if this is indeed a family favor, it might make more sense. But it’s tough, in watching Kratz’s performance in these ads, not to think he would have done this ad anyway, and maybe for free. His every interaction with a crudely animated turkey character suggests that here is someone who just likes turkey bacon that much.

We open on Kratz at his breakfast nook, about to eat with his hands in the classic big league catcher tradition. A cartoon turkey dressed up as a pig steps up to the plate.  Like a drunk guy at a bar, said animal goes up to Kratz and calls him by his full title: Erik Kratz, The Catcher For Philadelphia. Kratz returns the etiquette, addressing the cartoon turkey dressed up as a pig as A Turkey Dressed As A Pig. ATDAAP denies this, and Kratz, functioning as the Susan Lowenstein to his Tom Wingo, forces the matter by playing a game of “No I’m Not/Yes You Are”, until ATDAAP loses his fake snout. Kratz is triumphant in achieving this psychiatric breakthrough, but the ad cuts away before he eats that tasty turkey bacon, right in front of an actual (cartoon) turkey. We are thus left unsure as to whether ATDAAP is a “don’t eat me” animal mascot, like the Chick-Fil-A cows, or a “Being Dead Never Tasted So Good!” mascot, a la Cluckin’ Chicken, although he is probably the latter.

The other two ads are comparatively mundane, but each has its moments. Ad #2 is the most ho-hum, but it does feature Kratz looking at the camera while saving a living room vase from utter doom. Chooch could never do that.  

The final ad, which aired during the Phillies local postgame show on Opening Day, has Kratz back in his nook dressed up in catcher’s gear, possibbly to scare off the cartoon turkey/pig. We are introduced to another wacky character, Nanny State Umpire, who warns Kratz against eating bacon until our hero extols the virtues of turkey that looks like bacon. Yet again, Erik Kratz gets to have his turkey bacon, but the camera cuts away once more before he eats it, too.

Philadelphia has had more than its fair share of cult-hero catchers. The Phillies might have shared both Bob Uecker and Tim McCarver with the St. Louis Cardinals, but what other team can lay claim to having both Chris Coste and Sal Fasano? Sure, Yankees fans, you had Yogi Berra, but did you employ both John Wockenfuss and a catcher who was crushed to death by a satellite dish? Didn’t think so. Erik Kratz may not be the next Darren Daulton; to the extent that this means Kratz doesn’t create his own alien-powered all-explaining conspiratorial view of the universe, it would probably be good for all of us if he isn’t. But his name will be long remembered by Phillies fans, thanks to his thirty-one second performance opposite one costumed cartoon turkey and a few strips of bacon-esque meat strips. It’s more than Miguel Olivo can say, at least.

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