Hal McRae convinces the Royals to take a chance at the hot corner
Gaetti signed with California, but he continued to struggle. Things got so bad in Anaheim that he requested a trade, but the Angels straight-up told him no one was interested. He was present for one milestone while in California, however, though it had nothing to do with him. Gaetti manned first base for the Angels when the Royals came to town on September 30, 1992, and George Brett recorded his 3,000th hit. He caught the throw and tagged Brett out when he was picked off immediately after.
Perhaps this stuck in the Royals' heads. When the Angels DFA'd Gaetti the following season, Kansas City snatched him up. Expectations were not necessarily high, but the Royals had a massive hole at third base. Brett had long since moved to first base and designated hitter, and Keith Miller was penciled in at the position. When he got injured, the Royals platooned David Howard and Terry Shumpert, so Hal McRae decided it was worth a shot, even if he didn’t exactly give him a ringing endorsement. "It's hard to say what the guy will do," McRae said, according to Lake.
A year later, McRae praised Gaetti as one of Kansas City's most valuable players. He improved the level of play at third base immediately and provided a dangerous bat in the middle of the lineup, but he found his groove in 1995, enjoying a renaissance season among the fountains and finishing tenth in AL MVP voting. He became one of the few Royals to hit over 30 home runs in a season, falling one short of Steve Balboni's then-team record with 35, and he even blasted a walk-off against his old team, the Angels.
But perhaps his greatest accomplishment, at least in my mind, is that he is forever immortalized as the Royals' third baseman in Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball for the Super Nintendo. Point to whatever stats and accomplishments you like, but for fans of certain age, this is the highest honor a player of that era can achieve.
However, until the Grid adds that as a category, that factoid won't do you much good. So, let's get to the stuff that matters.