He rejoined the team in September a different man. He and Hrbek had problems on the team's next trip to Seattle, at the time the rapture was supposed to occur. With typical enthusiasm Gaetti tried to share his reawakening with Hrbek; Hrbek took Gaetti's "line" as self-righteousness. The depth of Gaetti's convictions began to strain other relationships as well. Last January he separated from Debby, his wife of 11 years; recently the elder of his two sons, seven-year-old Joseph, wondered aloud why Dad spent all his time reading "that dumb Bible." Says Gaetti, "I'm going to have to let God lead me in this area. Can you spend too much time with God? I feel like I'm doing what He wants me to do."
Before he goes to the plate, Gaetti often recites Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." In the field, he sometimes sings hymns out loud. And whenever he can, he reads the Bible. His evangelical Christianity, while distancing him from some players, has drawn him closer to others. Says veteran catcher Brian Harper, who was born again 12 years ago, "At first, Gary was outgoing about his beliefs. But you have to be careful of what you say and when you say it. The best witness is your life, to show you're happy and peaceful. It's not always the right time to talk about religion."
On July 16 against the Red Sox, Gaetti took a throw from Puckett and dived to the third base bag to apply the tag. When the umpire signaled safe, he sprang from the turf and started to charge the ump. But quickly Gaetti stopped himself, reined in his emotions, turned away from confrontation and walked toward the mound. He was asked about the play later, and his first words were, "I did not sin." Said Hrbek, "I asked him if he dropped an F-bomb, and he said he didn't. At least it's to the point where we can kid around about it."
But make no mistake. Gaetti is committed to his conversion, which he is convinced has saved his life. "I've been forgiven a lot," he says. "I love God a lot. I'm devoted to Him totally, consumed. Nothing means anything but serving the Lord. I know He wants me playing baseball, so I can reach people. But the day He makes me make a choice, there's no choice to be made."