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Steven Wayne Ratzer

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In his senior year of high school, Steve Ratzer was selected to New York's All-City Baseball Team. After college, he signed with the Montreal Expos as a free agent. Steve's career was delayed - en route to reporting to Lethbridge, AB, he heard that his father had died from a heart attack. Returning home to sit shiva, Ratzer then went to Lethbridge and more than caught up in playing time, appearing in 30 games to tie for the Pioneer League lead. In 24 relief appearances and six starts, Ratzer was 3-4 with five saves and a 2.33 ERA, third in the league in ERA and second in saves.

Advanced to the West Palm Beach Expos in 1976, Steve went 8-8 with five saves and a 3.42 ERA in 57 games (one start). He walked only 19 batters in 100 innings of work. He tied for the Florida State League lead in games pitched. He was 3-3, 2.77 with five saves in 15 outings for West Palm Beach in 1977, then went 3-6 with three saves and a 1.48 ERA in 27 games for the Quebec Metros but allowed 11 runs in 9 innings in two starts in his AAA debut with the Denver Bears. He did pick up a win in the post-season, when Denver took the American Association title from the Omaha Royals 4 games to 2.

Ratzer's stay in Denver would be a long one. In 1978 he was 7-10 with five saves and a 5.00 ERA as a swingman; the team ERA was 5.58 in the thin air of Denver, CO. The next season Steve went nearly identical - 8-9, 4 Sv, 4.53. He again made 14 starts and 26 relief appearances. He walked only 22 in 151 innings.

Ratzer earned the Allie Reynolds Award for his great performance for the 1980 Bears, one of the top minor league teams of the decade. In the high-offense environment, Steve had a 3.59 ERA, sixth in the AA. He started 18 games, relieved in 12 more and went 15-4 with two saves. He led the league in victories that season. He walked 29 in 163 innings.

Called up to the Expos at the end of the year, Ratzer had his only Major League Baseball start on October 5, allowing five runs on nine hits in four innings against the Philadelphia Phillies. This made him the first Jewish pitcher to appear for a Canada-based MLB team. Ratzer's rocky bump in his fine 1980 season was merely that as he starred in winter ball as well. With Escogido of the Dominican League, he went 5-1 with a 1.24 ERA and 14 saves, breaking Kent Tekulve's league record. He won three games in the championship and earned MVP honors as his club won the pennant.

He went 1-1 for the 1981 Expos with a 7.17 ERA. Surprisingly, the control specialist walked 7 in 17 1/3 IP. He finished his major league career 1-1 with a 7.17 ERA and returned to Denver, going 7-3 with a 3.42 mark. He led Escogido to another pennant that winter and was MVP once more. Traded to the New York Mets for Frank Taveras, Ratzer was 11-7 with a 3.08 ERA for the Tidewater Tides and was the Rolaids Minor League Fireman of the Year.

Dealt to the Chicago White Sox and then back to Montreal, Ratzer finished his career at age 29 with a 3-6, 6.75 season for Denver, his 7th season pitching there. Overall, in Organized Baseball, Ratzer went 69-63.

Retiring to spend time with his family of five, he worked in the restaurant business in Denver.

Sources: 1976-1981 Baseball Guides, Pat Doyle's Professional Baseball Player Database, The Big Book of Jewish Baseball by Peter Horvitz and Joachim Horvitz

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