Friday, January 10, 2014

#139 Gary Gaetti

About the Front: Firstly, yes, this card features an uncorrected error. Gary Gaetti's name should be in red letters, not white. It's worth the same as any other card in this set, which is to say not much at all. But don't let Topps' goof-up distract you from a great action photo. In a sparsely-attended game at Cleveland Stadium (that really narrows it down...), Indians' catcher Junior Ortiz is attempting to tag a sliding Gaetti, whose facial features look even more rodentlike than usual here. Call it a cheap shot, but Baseball Reference lists the guy's nickname as "The Rat". Anyhow, I was able to pick out the boxscore by process of elimination: Saturday, May 2, 1992. In the top of the fourth inning, Gaetti hit a one-out single to left field against Dennis Cook to score Junior Felix, giving the Halos a 2-1 lead. Gary moved to second base on the throw home, but was cut down at the plate on Mike Fitzgerald's single. The Tribe kept California off of the scoreboard after that, pulling out a 3-2 win.

About the Back: That's a pretty goofy stat, but if you're curious it appears that Gaetti scored the 20,000th run in Angels history on his own three-run homer, a fifth-inning shot off of Mark Davis that provided the winning margin in a 3-1 victory over Kansas City.

Triple Play:

1. Gary homered in his first career at-bat, taking Charlie Hough deep on September 20, 1981. His 360 career home runs are the most among players who touched 'em all in their first at-bat.

2. His career hardware includes a 1987 ALCS trophy, four Gold Gloves at the hot corner, and a Silver Slugger Award that he captured at age 36 after leading the Royals with 35 home runs in 137 games in 1995.

3. He coached in the Astros' organization at both the minor and major league levels and also served as hitting coach of Tampa Bay's AAA club, the Durham Bulls. For the past two seasons he has managed the independent Atlantic League's Sugar Land Skeeters. In 2013, the Skeeters had a 95-45 record but lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Somerset Patriots.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I thought it was funny that Gaetti and Greg Gagne teamed together in Minnesota and Kansas City. For years, those two teams had a pair of G.G.'s on the left side of the infield.

Bill James Said: "Had a .477 slugging percentage after joining Kansas City in mid-season, which from my standpoint as a Royals fan, will keep his miserable carcass in the lineup another year." Two more, actually, and they were his best performances since 1988. It was part of a late-career revival that saw Gary remain a regular through 1999, his age-40 season.

On This Date in 1993: January 10. In postseason NFL action, the Cowboys rout the Eagles 34-10 and the Dolphins shut out the Chargers 31-0. Next week, Dallas will face the 49ers and the Dolphins will square off with the Bills to determine the matchup for Super Bowl XXVII.

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