Frank Catalanotto played for the Tigers from 1997-1999. He hit .280 with 17 home runs and 63 RBIs in that 3 year span. Frank played a total of 14 seasons in the MLB for 5 different teams (Det,Tex,Tor,Mil,NYM). Frank took some time recently answer a few questions for our readers of the Country Strong Tigers. Here are the questions with Frank’s answers applied:
Q: Who or what influenced you to play the game of baseball?
A: My dad had a huge influence me when it came to baseball. At a very young age he would take me in the backyard, pitch balls to me and teach me the game. I came a big fan of the Yankees and we would go to watch them play at Yankee Stadium many times during the season.
Q: Take us back to 1992, the year the Tigers drafted you, what was that whole process like?
A: Getting drafted by the Tigers was awesome. The whole process of deciding whether to go to college or sign to play professional baseball was difficult. It took me over a month to make my decision.I had a scholarship waiting for me at Seton Hall. Schooling was very important to my parents and I and I wanted to make the correct choice. After the Tigers put a clause in my contract that stated that they would pay for some of my schooling it made the decision easier. I signed and was off to the minor leagues.
Q: Describe what kind of emotions you had when you stepped to the plate for your first Major League at bat in 1997?
A: Stepping to the plate for the first time in the major leagues was a dream come true. I was nervous but also so excited. There was such a sense of accomplishment because I had worked so hard to get there.
Q: More exciting, your first career hit or first career homerun?
A: My first hit will always be one of my biggest thrills. I was so happy to get it out of the way. It helped take some pressure off.
Q: You hit for the cycle back in 1998, describe what that was like?
A: Hitting for the cycle was pretty cool. I don’t think I had ever done it in little league or high school. I needed a double in my final at bat. I hit a ball in the right centerfield gap. It was a ball that the centerfielder actually could have caught but he seemed to misplay it a bit. I got lucky but I’ll take it.
Q: Was it tough being bounced around so much playing for 5 different MLB teams?
A: I didn’t think playing for as many teams as I did was tough. A lot of guys do it. It was nice being able to experience living in different cities.
Q: Your most fondest memory playing with the Tigers?
A: My fondest memory playing with the Tigers will always be my first ML hit. It was an RBI single to right field against Rick Helling.
Q: Best player you played with on the Tigers?
A: The best player that I played with on the Tigers was probably Luis Gonzalez. He went on to have a great big league career.
Q: What were some of the good/bad things about playing at Tiger Stadium?
A: The best thing about playing in Tiger Stadium was the history and rich tradition. It always had that old time baseball feel that I love. The worst part about playing at Tiger Stadium was the dugout and clubhouse were very small cramped.
Q: Did you ever get a chance to meet with Ernie Harwell when you were with the Tigers?
A: I knew Ernie Harwell very well. He was a great broadcaster and even a better person. He is someone that I miss dearly.
Q: Thoughts on how the Tigers will do in 2012?
A: I think the Tigers are looking good going into 2012. With Verlander leading the rotation and the 3-4 combo of Cabrera and Fielder they should be the favorite to win their division.
Q: Current favorite Tiger?
A: My favorite current Tiger is Prince Fielder. I got the chance to play with him in Milwaukee and is not only a great player but he is a great teammate as well.
Q: Best coach/manager you had throughout your playing career?
A: The best manager/coach I ever had was Larry Parrish. I had him as both and he is very smart in all facets of the game.
Q: Best player you had the opportunity to play with?
A: The best player I ever played with was Alex Rodriguez. I played with him for two years with the Rangers and marveled at what he could do everyday.
Q: Toughest pitcher(s) you faced?
A: The toughest pitcher I’ve ever face was Pedro Martinez.
Q: What’s the retired life like?
A: Retired life is great. I am able to spend more time with my wife and four girls. I own a vitamin and supplement company called Proven4. The website is proven4.com
Q: Are you still involved in any baseball related things? Such as coaching?
A: I help coach the Italian National Team and also give hitting lessons for the local kids on Long Island.
Q: I read that you and your wife do some charity work, tell us a little bit about what kind of charity it is?
A: My wife and I started the Frank Catalanotto Foundation which helps support the Vasculars Birthmarks Foundation. My daughter was born with a birthmark on her nose and they had help us seek the proper treatment for her to get it removed. The website is frankcatalanotto.com
Q: Is there anything you would of done differently looking back on your baseball career?
A: I was so blessed to have a long successful career. Looking back, I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I played the game hard and have no regrets.
Q: Best advice for kids out there wanting to make it in the Big Leagues?
A: I always tell kids that want to make it to the major leagues to work hard and always hustle.
Big thanks goes out to Frank for answering all these questions with such great answers. Your time is much appreciated by myself, the writers and the readers of the Country Strong Tigers.
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