With the celebration of the Minnesota Twins’ 1987 World Championship this weekend, it’s high time to profile the players!
This weekend, the Minnesota Twins will be honoring the 1987 World Series championship team. As we get ready for that weekend, we at Puckett’s Pond want to highlight some of the best players and moments from that season.
The Twins had a pair of double-G’s on the left side of the infield in 1987, and Gary Gaetti was one of the fixtures in the middle of the Twins lineup. His trademark no-flap batting helmet was a consistent presence in the heart of the lineup for nearly a decade in Minnesota.
Gaetti was the Minnesota Twins first round selection, 11th overall, in the 1979 MLB draft out of Northwest Missouri State University. He moved quickly through the minor leagues, getting a brief call up in 1981 before taking over a starting role in 1982 with the Twins.
From 1982-1990, Gaetti averaged 22 home runs and 84 RBI each season as one of the middle of the lineup hitters for the Twins. 1987 was right in the middle of the best three years of Gaetti’s career, as from 1986-1988, Gaetti hit .280/.334/.516 while averaging 33 doubles, 31 home runs, and 102 RBI per season.
Gaetti was also a very good fielder, winning 4 consecutive Gold Gloves from 1986-1989.
In 1987, Gaetti was one of three 30+ home run hitters, and the Twins would not have a single 30-home run hitter for almost 20 years after this big year, indicating just how special the power on the 1987 Twins team was.
Gaetti hit .257/.303/.485 on the season with 36 doubles, 31 home runs, 109 RBI, and 10 stolen bases, while even scoring 95 runs.
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Gaetti batted 4th or 5th for 150 of the 154 games he played in the 1987 season, indicating his role in the middle of the lineup.
Gaetti was outstanding in the American League Championship Series against the Tigers, hitting .300/.348/.650 with a double, 2 home runs, and 5 RBI, winning the MVP of the series. He continued to provide plenty of power in the World Series, hitting .259/.333/.519 with 2 doubles, a triple, a home run, and 2 stolen bases.
After 1990, the Twins struggled to justify spending the money on a 32 year-old Gaetti entering free agency, and he left for the California Angels. The decision proved to be fortuitous as the combination of Mike Pagliarulo and Scott Leius provided excellent production at the hot corner while Gaetti struggled with injuries for the next few years.
The Angels released Gaetti early in 1993, and the Kansas City Royals signed him to play third base, where he joined former teammate Greg Gagne on the left side of the infield for the Royals. The Royals helped to revive his career, and he had his highest home run total in 1995 with the Royals, hitting .261/.329/.518 with 35 home runs and 96 RBI at 36 years old.
Gaetti signed with the St. Louis Cardinals before the 1996 season, and he hit well in his two seasons with the Cardinals before the Cardinals then traded him in 1998 to the Chicago Cubs, where he really took off, hitting .320/.397/.594 after the trade for the Cubs, with 8 home runs.
Gaetti hit .204 in 113 games as a part time player for the Cubs in 1999 at age 40 and in 2000, he tried with Boston to give it a go once more, but was released after 5 games.
Gaetti has been bouncing around as a hitting coach since his playing days ended, working first in the Astros season, eventually as the MLB club’s hitting coach from 2004-2006. He’s also worked with the Tampa Bay Rays AAA club in Durham before he then worked with Baseball USA.
Gary became the first manager of the Sugar Land Skeeters, an independent league team, in 2012.
He was inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame in 2007.
Excited for the anniversary weekend?! Who should we profile next? Let us know in the comments!