Gary Joseph Gaetti was born on August 19, 1958 in Centralia, Illinois. He was a star athlete at Northwest Missouri State University, getting credit for hitting the longest HR in the school’s history, measuring over 505 feet. He is inducted in the NMSU’s Hall of Fame. Gaetti got drafted in the first round of the 1979 draft, (the 11th pick overall) by the Minnesota Twins.
He showed power at the minor league level hitting 22 HRs in 1980 & then 30 at Orlando in 1981 getting called up to the Twins that September. In his first MLB at bat he began his career with a HR. By 1982 he began a seven year run as the Twins regular third baseman.
Gaetti was an outstanding defensive third baseman, winning four straight Gold Gloves from 1986 to 1989. Defensively in his career Gaetti led all third baseman in assists & put outs four times each & fielding percentage three times. His .965 career fielding percentage at third base is the 22nd best all time.
He made two All Star games, hitting 20 or more HRs six times, including two 30 plus seasons, driving in 80 plus runs five times, including two seasons with over 100. He also scored 90 plus runs twice, gathering over 150 hits three times, but also had over 100 strike outs four times He had his best seasons in Minnesota in 1986 (34 HRs 108 RBIs .287 Ave.) & in their 1987 Championship season. In 1987 he hit 31 HRs with career highs in doubles (36) & RBIs (109) & runs (95).
Post Season: In the 1987 ALCS he became the first player ever to hit HRs in his first two postseason plate appearances. His two solo HRs helped the Twins to an 8-5 win in Game #1. Overall he hit .300 in the Series with six hits, five runs scored & 5 RBIs, earning him the Series MVP Award.
In the World Series he had two hits in Game #1 in the Twins 10-1 win. In Game #2 he had two more hits including another post season solo HR. He doubled home another run in the Twins Game #5 route as well.
Overall he hit .259 with 7 hits, 1 HR 2 doubles & 4 RBIs.
Gaetti was known as a party kind of ball player, having a good time drinking & staying out late with the ladies. This earned him the nicknames “The Rat” & “G man". But in 1988 he changed all that becoming a born again Christian. He even displayed a religious slogan on his batting gloves during the 1989 All Star Game's pre game introductions on national TV.
In 1990 he made hsitory at Fenway park when he started two different triple plays in a game.
After the 1990 season, he went further west, signing a big contract with the Anaheim Angels. His numbers dropped off significantly in California, only hitting a high of 18 HRs & batting a high of .246. He was hitting only .180 after 20 games in 1993 when the Angels released him.
He signed on with the Royals and after an injury ridden 1994 season he turned his career around at the age of 36. In 1995 he hit a career high 35 HRs with 96 RBIs and a .261 average. The following year he signed with St. Louis putting in two solid seasons before getting released in 1998. His career winded down playing in Chicago with the Cubs & then Boston, retiring in 2000 at the age of 42.
After a 20 year career, Gaetti put up some very impressive numbers; 2280 hits (149th all time) hit 360 HRs (74th all time) 1438 singles (240th all time) 443 doubles (106th all time) ) 1341 RBIs (85th all time) 842 extra base hits (83rd all time) 104 sac flies (19th all time) 1602 strikeouts (33rd all time) in 2507 games played (52nd all time) & a .965 fielding % (22nd all time).
At third base: 2282 games played (3rd all time) 4531 assists (6th all time) 224 errors (67th all time) 1699 put outs (25th all time).
On his 49th birthday, the Twins inducted him in the team’s Hall of Fame & held a bobble head night.
Retirement: He has coached in the Astros & Rays organizations & currently worked at Baseball USA in Houston.