Where Are They Now?: Frank Catalanotto
Frank Catalanotto never lost the urge to coach baseball after his 14-season big league career concluded following the 2010 season. So when Division II New York Tech came calling, he was ready.
Catalanotto’s inaugural Bears team in 2019 completed a remarkable turnaround. They went 37-16 and staged an improbable run to the D-II College World Series. New York Tech had gone 13-36 the year before.
There is much for Catalanotto to like about his new gig. Except for nights when he is on the road recruiting, he can sleep in his own bed at his Long Island home. His off-hours commute is a mere 35 minutes. Then there is the baseball.
“I love it. It’s a lot of fun being able to give back and help these kids out,” Catalanotto said. “It’s very rewarding to see the guys make progress. When we’re out there teaching and, all of a sudden, they apply it in a game, it’s very rewarding.”
Catalanotto turned down his first opportunity at college baseball when he was coming out of Smithtown East High on Long Island. He weighed a scholarship offer and commitment to Seton Hall against the $25,000 bonus offered by the Tigers in 1992 as a 10th-round pick.
Catalanotto and his parents considered each option. Once Detroit included a college tuition offer that Catalanotto could cash in once his pro playing career ended, the decision was made.
“I had always dreamed about being a major league baseball player,” Catalanotto said, “but I didn’t want to give up that (college) opportunity.”
Six years later, Catalanotto was in the majors to stay as a 24-year-old Tigers rookie in 1998. The lefthanded hitter also spent stints with the Rangers, Blue Jays, Brewers and Mets, hitting .291/.357/.445 and providing value by playing first, second and third base as well as both corner-outfield spots.
His career peaked in 2001 with the Rangers. That year he finished fifth in the American League batting race at .330.
“I was seeing the ball like it was a beach ball,” Catalanotto said. “Those times are very few and far between, so you remember those very well. That was a time that I was locked in and having a lot of fun playing baseball.”
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In 2004, Catalanotto collected five singles and a double in six plate appearances to set a Blue Jays record.
If there was a regret in his career, Catalanotto said it was never having played for a playoff team.
“I’m definitely jealous of these guys who are playing in the playoffs and in the World Series,” Catalanotto said.
These days, in addition to coaching, Catalanotto and his wife, Barbara, continue to operate the Frank Catalanotto Foundation, which raises money and awareness for children with vascular birthmarks.
The oldest of Catalanotto’s four daughters, Morgan, was born with a vascular hemanginoma, a skin abnormality, that was removed with several surgeries from ages 3 through 9.
“Now, my daughter is a beautiful 20-year-old who you can’t ever tell had that birthmark,” Catalanotto said.