Meet the MLB postseason’s one-man Immaculate Grid: ‘My phone is blowing up’

There’s a banking executive in Georgetown, Texas, who enjoys playing the popular online game Immaculate Grid. This trivia challenge tests a baseball fan’s knowledge of MLB player connections, and the goal is to achieve a low score. The game prizes obscure players over famous ones. This particular banker, Matt Kata, has an advantage because he can sometimes use his own name, resulting in a super low Rarity Score. However, Kata’s anonymity recently took a hit when avid baseball fans discovered that he is the sole player in major-league history who can connect the dots from the Texas Rangers to the Houston Astros to the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Philadelphia Phillies. Kata played for all of these teams, making him a unique Immaculate Grid of one. Having this newfound fame has made him “pretty cool” in the eyes of his high school freshman twins, Tripp and Gentry. Kata played in the majors for five seasons between 2003 and 2009, with a .239 batting average, 12 home runs, and a .660 OPS over 278 games.

Kata’s rarity score skyrocketed after a baseball writer named Jay Cuda unearthed his distinction and posted about it on X. The post received an impressive 322,000 hits in just a few days. The Athletic reached out to Kata, but he was already overwhelmed with messages. The news of his claim to fame initially came through a text from his former coaches when they spotted it online. Kata is enjoying the attention and appreciates reliving his career memories. Being associated with the game’s history was always the best part of his career, and he still remains a passionate fan.

Kata was selected by the Diamondbacks in the ninth round of the 1999 MLB draft and made his major league debut in 2003. He had a successful rookie season, batting .257/.315/.420 with seven home runs in 288 at-bats. Throughout his career, Kata had various memorable experiences, such as being on the field when Randy Johnson hit a dove with a fastball during a spring training game and witnessing Johnson’s perfect game against the Braves in 2004, where Kata made three key assists. He also played for the Phillies in 2005, the Rangers in 2007, and the Astros in 2009. Kata fondly remembers his time with these teams and often keeps in touch with former teammates.

Despite never reaching the playoffs himself, Kata is excited to dive into the postseason as a passionate observer. When asked about which team he is rooting for, Kata diplomatically expresses his love for the game and hopes for competitive, lengthy series. However, he finally admits that if one of his former teams ultimately emerges as the winner, he will feel a sense of pride for having worn their uniform.

(Matt Kata during his days in the majors: Jed Jacobsohn, Brian Bahr, Marc Serota, Robbie Rogers / MLB, Getty Images)


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