In the World Series, "The Rat" contributed 5 extra base hits in 7 games, but the MVP Award was taken home by pitcher Frank Viola. The following season, Gaetti enjoyed his best regular season, hitting .301/.353/,551 with 28 home runs, 29 doubles, and 88 RBIs. Gaetti also took home a Gold Glove that season and made an appearance with the American League All-Star team.
His last two years in Minnesota, 1989 and 1990, were not good. He was allowed to leave for the Angels as a free agent following the 1990 season. He played for the Angels from 1991 through the middle of 1993 when they released him. Gaetti signed with the Royals. He played for the Royals in 1993, 1994, and 1995. Surprisingly, after years of not hitting, Gaetti managed to post 35 home runs in 1995 while playing in the pitcher friendly Kaufmann Stadium.
The Cardinals signed him to play third for the 1996 team. Gaetti seemed like a good fit to help out with the younger players and he was returning close to home. He is from Centralia, Illinois, which is about an hours drive east of St. Louis. He contributed 23 home runs, 27 doubles, and an OPS of .799. Not bad for a 37 year old.
Probably his two biggest highlights in St. Louis during this time were his grand slam against Greg Maddux in the 2nd Game of the NLCS......
and after the Cardinals released him in mid August of 1998, he ended up being on the field with the Cubs when Mark McGwire passed Roger Maris. All of the Cubs infielders got a high five, except Gaetti who got a hug.
That was a nice moment for a guy who had just been released by the Cardinals a few weeks earlier.
On to baseball cards.
Gaetti played for the Cardinals in the mid to late 1990s during the time when there were way too many card products being put out every year. He wasn't really a star with the Cardinals or anything, but he still had some shiny high-gloss baseball cards. For whatever reason, a few different card companies treated the 1996 Gaetti like he was the 1987 Gaetti. He managed to pop up in some nice sets.
First, he was in the 1997 Topps Gallery set. Only 180 baseball cards in the set and Gaetti made the cut? McGwire was on the Cardinals by July of 1997 and in baseball card sets later in the year with the Birds on the Bat. A lack of star power on the team opened the door for a lot of random players to appear. Lankford and Gant were usually always in there, but beyond that it could be Eckersley, Brian Jordan, Delino DeShields, or Gaetti.
Gallery was a good 1990s set. Loved the designs Topps used.
On to a not so great looking Gaetti card from his Cardinals days.
What in the world was Topps doing with the whole "protective coating" thing on the fronts of the cards? I get that the high gloss cards can get scratches on the surfaces, but having the words "TOPPS FINEST PROTECTOR PEEL AND REMOVE COATING" is ridiculous. Without the sticker and words this is a mediocre Finest set, but with it is among the worst.
One more Gaetti card. If you are a Twins collector, he has a few Twins certified autographs floating around, which is a good thing. I'm sure that for most who remember Gaetti as a player, it's the team he is probably best remembered having played for. He has a Cardinals autograph, no Topps should not make another one, which is just a matter of timing. Here is the card.....
I have posted this card before. The 1996 Leaf Signature set is one of the best mid 1990s sets and the first of the mega autographed sets. There were some good names in the Cardinals set including Gaetti. His time in St. Louis was far from his prime, but it was still cool to see him included in an autograph team set. Especially considering that Ron Gant, Ray Lankford, and Andy Benes, probably the three best players on the 1996 Cardinals, did not appear in the set.
Last week was Eckersley, this week Gaetti. Next week I will go back to some of the real 1990s Cardinals.
A 1997 song from the IPod.