Gary Joseph Gaetti (Template:PronEng; born August 19, 1958 in Centralia, Illinois), nicknamed "G-Man" ("Rat" or "Zorn" during his earlier days), is an American former third baseman in Major League Baseball for the Minnesota Twins (1981-90), California Angels (1991-93), Kansas City Royals (1993-95), St. Louis Cardinals (1996-98), Chicago Cubs (1998-99) and Boston Red Sox (2000). Gaetti thereby achieved notoriety as a 20-year" player.
Gaetti won a World Series championship with Minnesota in 1987 and was the MVP of that year's American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers. That year, he became the first player ever to hit home runs in his first two postseason plate appearances: in 2008, Evan Longoria became the second.
Gaetti won four Gold Glove Awards for fielding excellence from 1986 through 1989, and was selected an All-Star in 1988 and 1989. A power-hitting third baseman who had his best season in 1986 when he batted .287 with 34 home runs and 108 runs batted in, Gaetti left the Twins for the Angels as a free agent following the 1990 season. His production dropped significantly with the Angels, who released him in June 1993. He signed with the Royals, who had lost their projected regular third baseman, Keith Miller, to injury, and had been playing struggling rookie Phil Hiatt at third. Handed the third base job, Gaetti turned his career around. In 1995, at the age of 36, he put together one of his best seasons, hitting .261/35/96, setting a career high in home runs and missing the Royals team record for most home runs in a season by one.
Following the 1995 season, Gaetti signed as a free agent with the Cardinals, where he enjoyed two more productive seasons before being released again in August 1998 after the Cardinals' acquisition of Fernando Tatis. Gaetti signed with the Cubs, where he enjoyed a good two months during the Cubs' pennant drive, hitting .320/8/27 and helping the Cubs win the National League wild card. The following season, the Cubs became disillusioned with its aging infield, which featured Gaetti at third, Jeff Blauser at short, Mickey Morandini at second, and Mark Grace at first. Gaetti played only semi-regularly and was released at the end of the season. He wound up his career the following season in Boston, appearing in five games in April 2000 at the age of 41. Bill James noted Gaetti's baseball-related aging process as being unusual for two reasons. Unlike most other league veterans, his walk rate never improved and his rate of productivity decline was "exceptionally" slow.
Gaetti became the interim hitting coach for the Houston Astros on July 14, 2004 when the Astros dismissed manager Jimy Williams, hitting coach Harry Spilman, and pitching coach Burt Hooton. Gaetti was previously the hitting coach for the AAA level New Orleans Zephyrs. Gaetti remained in this position until July 12, 2006, when he was fired by the Astros. He currently serves as the hitting coach for Tampa Bay's AAA affiliate, the Durham Bulls.
On August 19, 2007, Gaetti's 49th birthday, the Minnesota Twins inducted Gary to the team's Hall of Fame, while the club simultaneously released a commemorative bobblehead in his honor.
Gaetti hit a home run in his first-ever Major League at bat. He currently is the all-time home run king of players that homered in their first Major League at bat. He also hit two home runs in his first two career postseason at-bats in the American League Championship Series in 1987. He was the only person to ever accomplish that feat this until October 2, 2008, when a former player he coached at Durham, Tampa Bay Rays rookie Evan Longoria, joined him in the history books.
Although it is extremely uncommon in modern-era baseball to use position players as pitchers, the infielder Gaetti was used as an emergency relief pitcher by both the Cardinals and the Cubs. He retired with an ERA of 7.71 and one strikeout in three appearances. In a game vs. the Boston Red Sox, Gaetti was part of two triple plays in one game, while playing for the Minnesota Twins.
Gary played collegiate baseball for Northwest Missouri State University. Legend has it that Gaetti holds the record for the longest distance home run in NWMSU baseball history, an estimated 505 foot home run. Gary was inducted into the NWMSU athletic hall of fame, the "M-Club", in October 2003.
- Top 500 home run hitters of all time
- List of major league players with 2,000 hits
- List of Major League Baseball players with 400 doubles
- List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 runs
- List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 RBI
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
|American League Championship Series MVP|