Bethlehem Central's 1991 varsity baseball team. Matt Quatraro is in the top row, third from the right. (Photo courtesy of Bethlehem Public Library)
BETHLEHEM — When the ultimate Fall Classic starts with tonight’s first pitch in Cleveland, Bethlehem Central graduate Matt Quatraro will be there in uniform as hitting coach for the Cleveland Indians.
The 42-year-old Selkirk native has been involved in professional baseball since graduating Old Dominion in 1996, from which he was drafted by the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He had retired as a player in 2004 and began his coaching career in Tampa’s minor league system.
Quatraro’s resume as a coach has included a three-year stint as team manager before moving on as Tampa’s minor league hitting coordinator in 2010, a role he would maintain until he was hired to be Cleveland’s assistant hitting coach in 2014.
Quatraro showed a prowess for hitting early on in his amateur career. As a high school sophomore at Bethlehem Central, he helped propel the team to the New York state finals against Smithtown in 1990. “That year in particular was probably one of the most memorable seasons I ever had,” said Quatraro, in a 2015 interview with SpotlightNews.
Quatraro’s involvement with Cleveland’s recent run to the World Series may trump his years with the Bethlehem Eagles. In his first year as the team’s hitting coach, Cleveland improved from sixth to third in the American League with a .262 batting average.
After graduating from Bethlehem Central in 1992, Quatraro continued his amateur career at Old Dominion University where his hitting talents continued to flourish. By the time he graduated with his bachelor’s degree in 1996, he finished his collegiate career around the top of ODU all-time lists in many categories, including slugging percentage (.706, first), batting average (.400, second), home runs (35, tied for third), RBI (186, third), runs (170, ninth), on-base percentage (.482, tied for second) and total bases (438, third). He hit .413 as a junior and .416 as a senior.
Quatraro would finish his professional playing career with a .286 batting average and 200 RBI in 414 minor league games.
This year’s World Series features Cleveland of the American League and the Chicago Cubs of the National League — two teams that have suffered through notable championship droughts. Cleveland has not returned a championship team since 1948. Chicago has not won a World Series since Troy’s Johnny Evers played for the team in 1908.
Michael Hallisey is Managing Editor of Spotlight Newspapers.