This year marks the 25th season of Harrisburg Senators’ baseball returning to City Island. To commemorate the anniversary and honor all of the ballplayers that have played here for the last 25 years, I’ll be posting interviews throughout the season with members of each of those past teams.
Today, we continue the series with Rob Katzaroff, centerfielder and leadoff man for the 1991 Senators. Rob hit .290, scored 94 runs, stole 33 bases, and set the table at the top of the order for that year’s squad. He ended his minor-league career following the 1996 season after playing 7 seasons with the Expos, Mets, Angels, Marlins, Giants, and Yankees organizations.
What are your fondest memories of playing here in Harrisburg?
Rob Katzaroff: We had a great regular season with great pitching, timely hitting, and outstanding fan support. What I don’t remember was ever having a rainout at home. We could be in the midst of a severe thunder storm and expecting the umps to call the game at any minute as we watched the storm clouds approach the stadium from down the river. Without fail, the clouds would part around the stadium delivering rain to everywhere but City Island. The other great memory was being in the club house with the camaraderie of my teammates that year as well as our coaching staff, headed by Mike Quade. Every game prior to taking the field, we blared Thunderstruck from AC/DC from the clubhouse stereo, banging our Louisville Sluggers against the locker in time with the music. We hit the home field pumped from the first out of every game.
In 1991, you guys won the regular season by 6 games but were swept by the Albany-Colonie Yankees in three games. What do you remember about that series?
RK: We won a lot of games during the regular season, getting contributions from every player on that team, whether they were regulars, role players, or guys that came up for a week or two. Our pitching was lights out and we had several guys in the league leaders for all of the offensive categories. However, it seemed that the second half of the season, the only team that had our number was the Albany-Colonie Yankees. They had swept us in one of the final series at their place and had a lot of confidence going into the championship series against us. It was my first full season of baseball and I hit a slump at the plate right at playoff time. I don’t think I had more than a couple of hits against the Yankees that series and as the leadoff hitter for that team, didn’t do my job of getting on base and setting the table for Cianfracco, Stairs, and Nadal. I regretted that performance and it motivated me in future years to deliver in the playoffs and I was fortunate enough to be involved in two championship teams (1992 Binghamton Mets & 1996 Columbus Clippers). I still think that we had the better team in 1991, but they outplayed us that series.
A couple of years ago you were inducted as one of the first members of your high school’s Hall of Fame (along with teammates J.T. Snow and Robb Nen among others). How special is that honor to you?
RK: It was a great event that the booster club put on to honor all of the athletes and entertainers that came out of Los Alamitos HS in California. I hadn’t realized what a distinguished alumni we had until hearing some of the names that were honored that night. We had Olympic athletes, major league baseball players, NFL players, broadway entertainers, the creaters of Disney’s animated films and more. I certainly felt special to be honored with so many great people and thank Los Al and the organizers of the event for the award.
What have you been up to since your playing career ended?
RK: Since ending my baseball career in 1996, I have worked as a police officer in Scottsdale, Arizona. I married my wife Lori after that season in Harrisburg and we have five children. My oldest is a Marine and the others are all at home playing sports and going to school. I am a very fortunate man to have a loving wife and marriage with happy and healthy kids. I thank God everyday for the gifts he has given me.
Thanks to Mr. Katzaroff for taking the time out of his schedule to answer our questions and be a part of the rich tradition of Senators baseball.