BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- James Van Natta '59, a former baseball standout, is being inducted into the Moravian College Athletic Hall of Fame on November 6, 2015 in Johnston Hall beginning at 6:00 p.m.
Van Natta was a two-year letterwinner on the baseball team before signing a professional contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization after his sophomore season in 1957. Van Natta had a 14-4 record in just two years on the mound for the Greyhounds including identical 7-2 marks in 1956 and 1957. He helped the 1956 squad open the season with 11 straight wins including a 7-4 victory over Lafayette College in his collegiate debut; that team finished the year at 15-2.
Van Natta also played on the varsity basketball team as a freshman at Moravian, and he was a member of the Sigma Phi Omega fraternity while on campus.
He played four years in minor league baseball with stops with the Mex. Blues in 1957, San Angelo in 1958, Kokomo in 1959 and Kokomo and Great Falls in 1960. While at San Angelo with the Pirates organization, Van Natta was 12-7 while pitching to his brother John Van Natta, who was a catcher for San Angelo. Following the season, Jim Van Natta was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He would spend three seasons in the Dodgers organization including a spring training that saw him room with future Major League Baseball Hall of Famers Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax for two weeks. Jim Van Natta's career would end after an injury during batting practice when two-time MLB All-Star Carl Furillo hit a line drive off of his shoulder. His career featured a 25-21 record with 313 strikeouts in 409 innings over 91 appearances.
After retiring from professional baseball, Van Natta had a 43-year career with the United States Postal Service. Once that career ended, he went on to be a full-time security officer for the North Hunterdon Regional School District, a job that Van Natta still holds today. He also took up golf after his baseball career and has recorded nine holes-in-one on the links.
Van Natta lives in Clinton, New Jersey with his wife of 56 years, Joyce (Cozze), and they are the parents of four children – Kristal, James Jr., Jo-Ellen and Karyn.
To register to attend the 2015 Hall of Fame Induction, click here http://www.eventbrite.com/e/hall-of-fame-induction-ceremony-2015-tickets-17863641633.