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Twins hero visits Dickinson

Press Photo by Bryan Horwath Former Minnesota Twins slugger Gary Gaetti signs a picture for Leann Hofer of Dickinson while making an appearance at Menards in Dickinson on Thursday.

Baseball fans from across the Northern Plains may remember Gary Gaetti best for fielding a ground ball and firing it across the Metrodome diamond for the final out of the 1987 World Series, clinching the Minnesota Twins’ first world championship over the St. Louis Cardinals.

On Thursday, the former fan favorite was firing off autographs and posing for pictures at the new Menards store in Dickinson.

“Minnesota is a special place,” said Gaetti, who donned a white pinstripe Twins jersey. “I could go there tomorrow and it would be like that season happened just yesterday. It was very satisfying to win the World Series with that 1987 team. The group of guys we had that year — it was just really fun to go to the ballpark and go about our business.”

Born in Centralia, Ill., Gaetti played in the major leagues for 20 years — the first 10 of which came with the Twins. Known as a slugging third baseman for most of his time with the Twins, Gaetti hit 360 career home runs while playing for six major league teams.

These days, Gaetti makes his home in Texas and manages the Sugar Land Skeeters, an independent minor league team.

“Up here, the Skeeters would be like the St. Paul Saints,” Gaetti said. “We have free agents that we pick up left and right. It’s a mix of entertainment and baseball. This year, we have an NBA star, Tracy McGrady, who will try to make our team. I really like what I’m doing right now. Independent minor league baseball is just a good time.”

As a Twin, Gaetti played his home games at the Metrodome, the same stadium that is being demolished this week in Minneapolis. The Twins played at the indoor park from 1982 through 2009 before moving into Target Field across town.

“Some people mentioned that today,” Gaetti said. “I signed a piece of Teflon from the roof for someone and they said, ‘Aren’t you glad they’re tearing it down’? I said no, because that’s where I played all my games in Minnesota. When we clinched the pennant in Detroit (in 1987), we got back late that night. We went to the Metrodome because they said some people wanted to welcome us home. When we walked in, there were like 60,000 people at midnight to welcome us back. It was a surreal experience — you could never duplicate that again.”

Gaetti said he had traveled to Minot, but had never been to Dickinson before Thursday.

“I described this area to my wife earlier,” Gaetti said. “It’s expansive and beautiful, but in its own stark and barren way. I really like the people here — just being in this part of the country with the hills and how big the sky is. It’s very unique. I’d like to come up here during the summertime, but I’ve always been busy with baseball.”

Bryan Horwath
A Wisconsin native, Horwath has been covering news in the Oil Patch of North Dakota since 2012. Horwath currently serves as the senior agriculture and political reporter for The Dickinson Press and, despite the team's tendency to always let him down, remains a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan.
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