Raymond Frederick Katt (May 9, 1927 – October 19, 1999) was an American catcher and coach in Major League Baseball during the 1950s, and later the longtime and highly successful head baseball coach of Texas Lutheran University. A lifelong resident of New Braunfels, Texas, Katt stood 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) (183 cm) tall, weighed 200 pounds (91 kg), and threw and batted right-handed in his playing days. He attended Texas A&M University.
Katt spent his entire Major League playing career with two teams, the New York Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals, spending two separate terms with each club. Katt originally signed with the Giants and after two brief trials with them in 1952–53, he became the club's semi-regular backstop during its final championship season in New York in 1954. Playing in 86 games, he split catching duties with veteran Wes Westrum, hitting .255 with nine home runs and 33 runs batted in.
That year, he set a Major League record with four passed balls in one inning, catching knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm. The record was later tied by Gino Petralli of the Texas Rangers in 1987, catching knuckleballer Charlie Hough, and by Ryan Lavarnway of the Boston Red Sox in 2013, catching knuckleballer Steve Wright in Wright's first big league start.
Westrum took over the catching during the 1954 World Series, won by the Giants in four consecutive games, and Katt did not appear. However, in 1955, he became the club's regular receiver, playing in 124 games and compiling a career-high 326 at bats. But his batting average plummeted to .215 and he would spend the rest of his MLB career as a back-up.
He was first traded to the Cardinals on June 14, 1956, in a nine-player trade that included notables Alvin Dark and Red Schoendienst, and batted a creditable .259 in part-time duty for the Redbirds through the end of the 1956 season. But during the winter, St. Louis shipped him to the Chicago Cubs, who in turn peddled him back to the Giants on eve of the 1957 regular season. Katt was a member of the final New York Giants club before it transferred to San Francisco, batting 165 times in 72 games in 1957. He was traded back to the Cardinals in April 1958, and closed out his active MLB career with them as a third-string catcher in 1958 and a playing coach in 1959. In all or parts of eight major league seasons (1952–59), Katt appeared in 417 games, and batted .232 with 32 home runs and 120 RBI in 1,071 at bats.
He was a coach for Cardinals in 1959 and part of 1960 and the Cleveland Indians in 1962, and was the manager of the Triple-A Portland Beavers for the final eight weeks of the 1961 season. He then returned to Texas — first as a high school baseball coach in New Braunfels, and then as head baseball coach at Texas Lutheran, where he served for 22 seasons (1971–92), the team compiling a record of 502–362–2.
Ray Katt died at age 72 from lymphoma in New Braunfels.
By Dean Hanley
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