Q&A with Sugar Land skipper Gary Gaetti
With the Sugar Land Skeeters in town this week, I was able to catch up with the franchise’s inaugural skipper Gary Gaetti.
For his full baseball background, click here. In short, Gaetti was a heck of a major league player and one of the best defensive players during his time in the game in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1987, he was named the American League Championship Series MVP and for his career he ranks sixth all-time among third basemen with 360 career home runs, and he is one of 38 players all-time to record 2,200 hits (2,280) and 360 homers.
Below is Q & A with theSugarLandskipper:
When did you first here about the job opening in SugarLand?
“Well, I was living in Houston. I was working with Astros and Tampa Bay the previous couple of years. This job opened up. Deacon Jones (SugarLand’s special assistant to the team president) came up there and started talking about a minor league team in SugarLand. I got to talk to him, and he said ‘Would you mind if we put your name in the hat for a coaching or managing job?’ I said ‘Sure, go ahead.’ I just kind of stayed involved with all the functions. I just stayed involved with it because I knew it was gong to be really cool. So, I was just there to do whatever I could to help. I didn’t really realize I’d end up in this position, but it turned out good. I just knew how special it could be. Seeing Lancaster and other places where my son (Joe Gaetti, played for Lancaster Barnstormers in 2010) had played I just knew it was going to be a good thing because I like baseball and I was going to do my piece whenever they needed me to do to help. It just kind of turned out this way.”
Did your son, Joe, have any input with his thoughts on the Atlantic League when you were considering the job?
“No. I just had come and watched him play when he was inLancaster. He played in the league and I saw him play in the (independent) Northern League when he was with Joliet. I just liked it. I liked what it meant. I saw him having fun. It was a lot different than what people perceived it to be. It’s pretty good. I just wanted to do whatever I could, whether it was coach or hitting or whatever.”
How has your minor league coaching background help put together this year’s team?
“It’s not so much my background in minor league coaching. It’s just, when you do coach in the minor leagues you have to wear a few different hats, whether you’re the hitting coach or pitching coach, you’re still scouting. There are opportunities where you may have to manage. You do some of the travel and secretary stuff, you baby-sit a little bit. You do a lot of different things. I’m glad I had that experience.”
What’s your relationship like with York Revolution manager Andy Etchebarren?
“I’ve gotten to know him through (Lancaster Barnstormers manager) Butch (Hobson) last year. I came over here and went in the clubhouse and talked to Andy. I used to watch him when I was growing up. He was one of those names that always stuck out in your mind. He was on some of the better teams back then. It was neat to meet him. He’s a character.”
The Skeeters have signed nearly a dozen players with connections to the Houston area. How important was it to bring in guys with ties to the area?
“They’re all pretty good players. That’s an added bonus when don’t have to worry about (finding) housing for guys. It’s nice for the local stories to show them who we are. They’re interested in home-grown talent. That works both ways. (The players) are happy to be here and we’re happy to have them. It works out good. It’s a smooth transition.”
What’s relationship like with theSugar Land franchise being somewhat in the backyard of the Houston Astros?
“Well, it’s good for us. We want them to do well. We certainly hope that they come out and look at some of our players if they have a need. We’re going to support them in their efforts. I think it could be a nice relationship. The Houston area is certainly big enough to handle two (pro) teams, possibly three. It’s such a big baseball town. I’m not expecting any problems in terms of competition. They’re gonna see and like what we’re doing down there and we’re gonna support them.”
What have you liked about this job so far?
“I guess being excited about being back on the field and developing relationships and the camaraderie. Seeing the whole thing come from the ground up, getting to build your own team and seeing the ins and outs of the baseball operation. It’s a lot stuff. It’s a little nerve-racking. It’s still fun. You always think you want to be the manager and do that kind of stuff. When you see stuff happen like yesterday (referring toYork’s seven-run eighth inning), you’re like ‘Man this is happening really fast.’”