New York Yankees: Last MLB knuckleballer retires

BUFFALO, NY - SEPTEMBER 23: Erik Kratz #38 of the New York Yankees reacts after giving up a home run during the eighth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Sahlen Field on September 23, 2020 in Buffalo, New York. The Blue Jays are the home team due to the Canadian government's policy on COVID-19, which prevents them from playing in their home stadium in Canada. Blue Jays beat the Yankees 14 to 1. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - SEPTEMBER 23: Erik Kratz #38 of the New York Yankees reacts after giving up a home run during the eighth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Sahlen Field on September 23, 2020 in Buffalo, New York. The Blue Jays are the home team due to the Canadian government's policy on COVID-19, which prevents them from playing in their home stadium in Canada. Blue Jays beat the Yankees 14 to 1. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images) /
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The last knuckleball pitcher in Major League Baseball, New York Yankees relief ace Erik Kratz, has announced his retirement.

As the years have gone on, knuckleball pitchers have become a thing of the past. The fluttering nothing ball has been replaced with a penchant for velocity, making those practitioners a dying breed. And now, sadly, the last major league knuckleballer has retired from the New York Yankees.

Yes, backup catcher/relief ace Erik Kratz has announced his retirement from baseball. While he may not know what the future holds, Kratz knows that he will not be playing in 2021.

A 29th round draft pick in 2002, Kratz spent 19 years in professional baseball, finally reaching the majors in 2010. He only reached the 200 plate appearance mark twice, playing for nine different teams in his 11 years in the majors. However, he was considered a valuable depth piece, a solid veteran to have around in case he was needed.

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He only appeared in 332 games, producing a .209/.256/.355 batting line in his 951 plate appearances. Kratz did have some pop, with 31 homers and 36 doubles. He was also a solid defensive catcher, gunning down 33% of would be basestealers and saving 12 runs behind the plate.

Kratz was also viewed as an extra coach on the bench. His relationship with Yankees prospect Deivi Garcia certainly helped the youngster through his first action in the majors. Kratz had become almost a father figure to the young pitcher, a key piece in his development.

But Kratz’s retirement is notable for another reason. In his two outings as a mopup man for the Yankees, he showed an aptitude with the knuckler. Yes, he allowed two runs in his two innings, both on solo homers, but he also managed a strikeout. His knuckler was a thing of beauty.

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Now, after one last season with the New York Yankees, Erik Kratz is retiring. And for now, the knuckleball is extinct in the majors.