Feb 7, 2020

Todd Pratt: 2000 N.L. Champion Mets Back Up Catcher (1997-2001)

Todd Alan Pratt was born on February 9, 1967 in Bellevue, Nebraska. The six foot three 195 pound catcher attended high school in Chula Vista, California getting drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the sixth round of the 1985 draft. He played seven seasons in the minor leagues, never hitting well until he was traded to the Phillies organization. 

In 1992 he batted .327 overall in their minor leagues at the AA & AAA levels. Pratt was mostly a career second string backup catcher, first behind Darren Daulton in Philadelphia getting to a World Series losing to the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993. In 33 regular season games he hit .287 with 5 HRs & 13 RBIs. He got one at bat going 0-1 in the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves.

In 1994 he hit just .196 in 28 games then signed as a free agent with the Chicago Cubs where he spent one brief season (25 games). He then signed with the Seattle Mariners but was released at the end of Spring Training. Pratt was out of baseball & worked at Bucky Dents Baseball Academy in Delray Beach Florida in 1996. He caught a big break when he was signed by the New York Mets in 1997. 

He was sent right up to AAA Norfolk where he batted .300 with 9 HRs in 59 games getting called up to the Mets that summer. Pratt debuted as a Met at Shea Stadium on the 4th of July in a game against the Florida Marlins. In that game he homered in his first at bat off future Met battery mate, Al Leiter. 

Pratt got three hits that day, driving in another run while helping Rick Reed to a 6-2 victory. He would drive in runs in five of his first six games with the Mets earning a spot as a backup catcher Todd Hundley. On August 7th he had a two hit three RBI day against the Colorado Rockies at Shea Stadium. Pratt put up a solid .283 average in 39 games (106 at bats), with two HRs & 19 RBIs for the ’97 Mets. 

In 1998 Pratt had alot of competition at the catcher position, with guys like Alberto Castillo, Jorge Fabregas & Tim Spehr all behind the plate at some time or another. Pratt was brought up on May 5th and in his first game hit a three run HR against the Arizona Diamondbacks helping New York to a 9-1 win. The next day he drove in three more runs with an eighth inning bases clearing triple in another Mets victory.

Overall Pratt only caught 16 games that season but was also used at first base (three games) as well as a pinch hitter appearing in 41 games. He hit .275 with two HRs & 18 RBIs in 69 at bats & was far better than any of the other back up catchers. 

Defensively in both the 1997 & 1998 seasons Pratt had thrown out twenty of forty two (47%) of the base runners attempting to steal on him. That summer the Mets acquired Mike Piazza for the catching job & Pratt would be the future Hall of Famers backup for the next two years. 

In the 1999 Mets Wild Card winning season, Pratt saw action in 17 games right away in April. He hit three HRs that month including shots in back to back games at Cincinnati toward the end of the month. He kept his average up over .300 until mid May then slumped off. 

On July 1st he had a three hit day in Florida driving in three runs, with a walks as well against the Marlins in the Mets 12-8 win.

 When he got a chance to play ( 71 games) he contributed batting his Mets career best .293, with three HRs four doubles 15 walks & 21 RBIs posting a real good .369 on base %. Defensively he posted a fantastic .996 fielding % although his percentage of throwing out would be base stealers fell to just 27%. 

1999 NLDS: Pratt saw his finest career moments in the Mets 1999 Post Season. In the NLDS against the Arizona Diamondbacks, he got the start behind the plate in both Games three & four for a hurting Mike Piazza. Pratt had drawn two walks in Game #3 and was 0-4 in Game #4, as he came to bat against Arizona’s Matt Mantei with one out in the tenth inning. 

Pratt drilled a long fly ball to the centerfield wall, as Arizona outfielder Steve Finley jumped up and reached over the fence but could not come up with the ball. 

Pratt had hit a walk off game winning HR over the Shea Stadium fence, his teammates & the Shea crowd of 56,000 plus went wild. The win Mets advanced them to the NLCS for the first time in 14 years. The HR ranks as one of the top moments in Mets history, and one of their most memorable game winners.

1999 NLCS: In the NLCS it was Todd Pratt who was right in the middle of another classic Mets post season moment. He was on first base when Robin Ventura blasted his famous walk off grand slam single in e 15th inning Game #5 against the Atlanta Braves.

Pratt was also the reason why Ventura's hit only counted a single, due to the fact he went over and embraced Ventura erasing the possibility of the hit being ruled a HR. The winning run had already scored of course so no damage was done in the decision of the game. 

Back in the Mets Game #1 loss, Pratt had a 9th inning pinch hit RBI single off one of baseball's most dumbest pitchers, John Rocker. In the top of the 10th inning of Game #6 Pratt stuck it to John Rocker again, driving in the go ahead run with a sacrifice fly scoring Benny Agbayani. The Mets went on to lose the Game & the Series in the bottom of the 11th inning when Kenny Rogers walked in the winning run. 

In the Mets 2000 NL Pennant season, Pratt returned with another solid back up year to Mike Piazza. Pratt had his usual hot start hitting a three run HR in his first game, the Mets fifth game of the year, although they took a 8-5 loss to the Padres. 

He hit another HR on April 30th at Coors Field in the Mets 14-11 win and finished April batting .367. At the end of May he hit HRs in three straight games he played in, including a grand slam against the Dodgers Terry Adams. in Los Angeles on May 30th. 

At the start of June he hit another HR giving him four HR in his last five games, Pratt kept his average up over .300 through mid June. He closed out the year with a three hit, three RBI day against the Braves at Shea on September 28th. 

Pratt saw action during interleague play & when Piazza spent time on the DL. Behind the plate he was solid, making only one error in 71 games (.997 fielding %) throwing out 40% of would be base stealers. At the plate he hit a career high 8 HRs in 80 games, while batting .275 with six doubles & 25 RBIs. 

2000 Post Season: In the 2000 post season he went hitless appearing in just two games (0-3). He got five plate appearances in the World Series, catching behind the plate in Game #1 going hitless with a walk. 

In 2001 he began the year with the Mets but struggled, batting just .163 through late July. He hit a HR against the Phillies on July 20th, driving in the only Met run in a 10-1 loss. It would be his last game as a Met as he was traded to the Phillies for catcher Gary Bennett who would play one game as a Met on July 23rd. 
Pratt spent the next four seasons in Philadelphia, primarily as Mike Lieberthal's backup. He hit a career high .311 in 2002 with 11 doubles 3 HRs & 16 RBIs. In the winter of 2005 he signed with the Atlanta Braves for the 1996 season, which would be his las year as a player. 

In his 14 year playing career he played in 662 games batting 251 with 404 hits 49 HRs 84 doubles 208 walks 224 RBIs & a .344 on base %. Defensively he posted a .993 fielding %, throwing out 27% of base runners in 553 games behind the plate. 

Retirement: Pratt coached at the West Georgia Technical College for five years. In he managed the Class A 2018 Greensboro Grasshoppers, a Miami Marlin affiliate.

Family: Pratt & his wife Tracy have four children & reside in Douglasville, Georgia.

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