Cito Gaston

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Cito Gaston
Cito.jpg
Outfielder / Manager
Born: (1944-03-17) March 17, 1944 (age 76)
San Antonio, Texas
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 14, 1967, for the Atlanta Braves
Last MLB appearance
October 1, 1978, for the Pittsburgh Pirates
MLB statistics
Batting average.256
Home runs91
Runs batted in387
Managerial record894–837
Winning %.516
Teams
As player

As manager

Career highlights and awards
Member of the Canadian
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Induction2002

Clarence Edwin "Cito" Gaston (/ˈst ˈɡæstən/; born March 17, 1944) is a former Major League Baseball outfielder and manager. His major league career as a player lasted from 1967 to 1978, most notably with the San Diego Padres and Atlanta Braves. He spent his entire managerial career with the Toronto Blue Jays, becoming the first African-American manager in Major League Baseball history to win a World Series title.

Cito Gaston managed the Toronto Blue Jays from 1989 to 1997, then again from 2008 to 2010. During this time, he managed the Blue Jays to four American League East division titles (1989, 1991, 1992 and 1993), two American League pennants (1992 and 1993) and two World Series titles (1992 and 1993).

Personal life[edit]

Gaston grew up in San Antonio and Corpus Christi, Texas, where his father was a truck driver. His career ambitions were either to be a truck driver like his father, or make it into the Major Leagues. He adopted his nickname 'Cito' in preference to his given name 'Clarence'. Gaston later told Toronto Blue Jays broadcasters the name was taken from a Mexican-American wrestler he watched as a young man in Texas. Other reports state Gaston was given this nickname from a friend named Carlos Thompson who thought Gaston resembled a well known Mexican wrestler named "Cito".[1][2]

As a player with the Atlanta Braves, he was the roommate of Hank Aaron. Gaston credits Aaron with teaching him "how to be a man; how to stand on my own."[3]

Gaston has been married three times. His first marriage ended in divorce with Gaston citing his baseball career as the reason.[1] His second marriage to a Canadian woman, Denise, lasted from the early 80s to the early 2000s.[1] Since 2003, Gaston has been married to Lynda,[4] both residing in Oldsmar, Florida.[1][5] When in Toronto, Gaston lives in a downtown condominium which he sublets to former Toronto Maple Leafs assistant coach Tim Hunter.[5]

Playing career[edit]

United States[edit]

Primarily a center fielder, Gaston began his decade-long playing career in 1967 with the Atlanta Braves, appearing in nine games. The following year he was selected by the San Diego Padres in the expansion draft, first playing for them in 1969. He had his best individual season in 1970, when he batted .318 (the highest batting average by a Padre prior to Tony Gwynn's arrival[6]) with 29 home runs, 92 runs scored and 93 RBI, and was selected to the National League All-Star team. The rest of Gaston's career did not live up to his All-Star season success. Gaston never hit more than 17 home runs or knocked in more than 61 runs in any season with the Padres (until 1974) or the Braves (from 1975 until 1978).[7]

Venezuela[edit]

In the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League, Cito Gaston played with the Cardenales de Lara (1967–68), the Navegantes del Magallanes (1968–72, 1975–76) and the Tiburones de La Guaira (1976–77).[8] Gaston hit 31 home runs and drove in 207 runs in 310 games (regular season).[8]

Managing career[edit]

Cito Gaston is a member of the Toronto Blue Jays' Level of Excellence.

Pre-World Series seasons[edit]

Gaston became the hitting coach for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1982. Gaston remained the hitting instructor until 15 May 1989, when he took over managerial duties from Jimy Williams, when the team was suffering through an unexpectedly bad start. Gaston originally declined the offer to be manager when Williams was fired. He told Ebony magazine: "When I was offered the job as manager, I didn't want it. I was happy working as the team's hitting instructor".[3] It was only when his players encouraged him to take the job did he reconsider the offer.

The Blue Jays won their first division title in 1985 with Gaston as hitting coach. Gaston was able to take superstars and mold them into a team. Under Gaston's leadership, Toronto transformed from a sub-.500 team (12–24 under Jimy Williams) to the eventual division winners, going 89–73 (77–49 under Gaston). Toronto's success under Gaston was not short-lived, as they finished second in the division behind Boston the following year and won the division again in 1991, 1992 and 1993.

World Series seasons[edit]

As a coach and manager, Gaston was considered a player's manager. He was a soft-spoken and steady influence during years that saw a large group of talented, high-salaried players grace the Blue Jays uniform. The franchise led the Major Leagues in attendance each year from 1989 to 1992, setting new records each of the latter three years, riding high from a dedicated fan base and a new stadium to play in when Gaston took the helm. The Jays opened the SkyDome a few weeks after Gaston became manager and the financial success translated into major free agent signings, including pitcher Jack Morris, outfielder Dave Winfield, and designated hitter Paul Molitor. They also retained core All-Stars such as Joe Carter, Devon White, Roberto Alomar, and John Olerud. Joe Carter credits Gaston for the team's championships:

Cito knows how to work with each individual, treating everyone like a human being. He knows exactly what to say, when to say it, what to do and how to go about doing it. When you have a manager like that, it makes you want to play for the guy. We'd go to war for him. What Cito has done for the Blue Jays can't be taken lightly.[3]

Gaston had worked with players at an individual level as a hitting instructor and transferred this to the job of manager. He was known for his open communication with his players.[9] He was a successful game strategist, effectively handling National League rules during World Series games in Atlanta and Philadelphia. In the six games the Blue Jays played in those places during World Series play, the Jays went 4–2, including the title clincher in Game 6 of the 1992 World Series in Atlanta. The 1992 World Series victory was widely recognized as the first for a non-American team, and Gaston was the first ever African-American manager to win a World Series. The Blue Jays followed their 1992 success with a repeat victory in the 1993 World Series, an impressive feat, given that the Jays had lost starting position players Manuel Lee, Kelly Gruber, Candy Maldonado and Dave Winfield, starting pitchers Jimmy Key, David Cone and Dave Stieb, relievers Tom Henke and David Wells and bench players Derek Bell and Pat Tabler during the off-season following 1992.

All-Star manager[edit]

Gaston was the manager for two American League All-Star teams since he was the manager of the championship American League franchise in 1992 and 1993. He was criticized for selecting six Blue Jays to the 1993 roster, but was unapologetic, stating all six were World Champions and two were future Hall of Famers (Gaston's prediction proved correct, as two of those players (Roberto Alomar and Paul Molitor) have been voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame).

In the 1993 All-Star Game held at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, he was criticized for not getting Orioles pitcher Mike Mussina into the game. Mussina got up in the ninth inning to warm up in the bullpen.[10] Mussina later claimed that he was simply doing a between-start workout, but some interpreted it as an attempt to force Gaston to put him into the game. As angry fans jeered in dismay, incredulous that Gaston would not use the popular local player and believing Mussina had been sent to warm up for no reason, Gaston instead allowed Blue Jays pitcher Duane Ward to close out the victory for the American League. Baltimore fans did not like this perceived snub, later wearing T-shirts that said "Cito sucks" and carrying signs with the phrase, "Will Rogers never met Cito Gaston", referencing Rogers' famous line, "I never met a man yet that I didn't like."[11]

Post-World Series[edit]

Gaston's fortunes, like those of the Blue Jays franchise as a whole, faded after the championship years. The World Series winning clubs had dissipated because of aging players, increased post-Series salary demands, and the failure of new owner Interbrew (which merged with founding owner Labatt in 1995) to raise the budget substantially. After Major League Baseball solved its labor problems in 1994, Pat Gillick and eventually Paul Beeston left the organization and annual attendance began to drop considerably, but the Blue Jays were still trying to compete in the American League East and in 1997 signed free agent Roger Clemens. When the team could barely break the .500 mark all season, Gaston was fired by GM Gord Ash. He had failed to lead the team to a winning record since 1993 and seemed uninterested in keeping his position.[12] Gaston forced Ash's hand by telling his boss that he was taking a vacation at season's end and would not be around for the usual post season evaluation process. He was replaced by then-pitching coach Mel Queen on an interim basis for the last week of the 1997 season. Joe Carter wore Gaston's No. 43 on his jersey for the remainder of the season in part to honor him and in part to express his displeasure at his firing.[13] Gaston finished his first stint as manager with a 683–636 regular season record and 18–16 post–season record.[14]

Gaston was a final candidate for the Detroit Tigers manager's job in the 1999–2000[15] season and was the runner-up in the Chicago White Sox manager position in the 2003–2004 off season. Sox GM Kenny Williams, who had played under Gaston in Toronto, had him as of two finalists for the job but decided to hire Ozzie Guillén.[16][17] Gaston had several offers to rejoin major league teams as a hitting instructor, namely the Kansas City Royals, but declined offers. After interviewing unsuccessfully for several other managerial jobs, Gaston said that he would only manage again if he were hired directly without an interview.[18][19] Gaston turned down an opportunity with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2004.[20]

Cito Gaston's name is honoured by the Toronto Blue Jays in Rogers Centre.

Gaston rejoined the team as a hitting coach after the 1999 season but was not retained after a disappointing 2001 campaign and the sale of the franchise to Rogers Communications. In 2002, he was hired by the Jays for a third time, as special assistant to president and chief executive officer Paul Godfrey.[21]

Managerial return[edit]

On June 20, 2008, Gaston was rehired as the manager of the Blue Jays to replace John Gibbons. It was his first managerial job at the major-league level since being fired by the Blue Jays 11 years earlier, which was unusual for a World Series-winning manager. The team's record was 35–39 when Gaston and his coaching staff took over, after which the Blue Jays went 51–37 for the remainder of the season which included a late ten-game winning streak and the team finished fourth in the American League East. On September 25, 2008, it was announced that Gaston had signed a two-year extension that would keep him as manager until 2010.[22] He announced on October 30, 2009 that he would retire after the 2010 season.[23]

Managerial record[edit]

Team Season Regular season record Pos. Post–season record Pennants won
W L Win % W L Win %
Toronto Blue Jays 1989 77 49 .611 1 1 4 .200
1990 86 76 .531 2
1991 72 57 .558 1 1 4 .200
1992 96 66 .593 1 8 4 .667 Won World Series
1993 95 67 .586 1 8 4 .667 Won World Series
1994 55 60 .478 3
1995 56 88 .389 5
1996 74 88 .457 4
1997 72 85 .459
Total 683 636 .518 18 16 .529 Two World Series.
Toronto Blue Jays 2008 51 37 .580 4
2009 75 87 .463 4
2010 85 77 .525 4
Total 211 201 .512 0 0
Career totals 894 837 .516 18 16 .529
Reference:[14]

Controversies[edit]

  • In April 1997, during a pre-game interview, Gaston accused specific members of Toronto's sports media (Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons, The Globe and Mail sports editor Dave Langford, and Fan 590 sports talk show host Bob McCown) of racism against him, stating "There's a couple (of sports writers) who continue to take shots at me for no reason at all. I just wonder if they would take the same shot at me if I was white."[24] After the game against the Oakland A's on April 17, Gaston spoke briefly about his pre-game comments. "I've got one statement that I'm going to say, and I'm not going to say another word", Gaston said. "Whatever has been said, whatever has been written, if it has offended someone and it's unjustly offended them, I apologize. If it hasn't, then I don't apologize."[24]
  • On October 3, 2009, an online column by Fox Sports baseball writer Ken Rosenthal reported of a mutiny in the Blue Jays' clubhouse against Gaston by his players and some members of his coaching staff. Rosenthal cited unnamed sources who claimed that the mutiny was a result of his impatience with the players after they started losing, partially reflected with players getting less playing time,[25] his lack of communication, including his inability to properly communicate substitutions,[25] and his negativity, especially when it came to the younger players who required more positive reinforcement.[25] A day after the report, Blue Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay was quoted as being one of the players who was surprised over his lack of playing time as well as wanting Gaston to improve his communication. "More than anything, I want to try to figure out what to expect for next year. It kind of caught me off-guard a little bit when I wasn't playing. ... (Gaston) never really said a lot. As we were winning, he was kind of sitting on the back burner, watching us play good."[26] When asked about the report on the clubhouse mutiny, Gaston replied that he was surprised that such criticism existed. "If you've got two or three or four guys in there that have a problem, then you don't have to win anything, do you? You might have to certainly deal with those guys, but you don't have to win the clubhouse back. I don't think that you can ... rely (on a few) players to find out (if there's a problem). I think you need to talk to all of them. If it comes up to 50 percent, then, hey, maybe we've got a problem. I'd like to know what the problem is because I can't be any fairer than I've been."[26]
  • On June 1, 2010 Fan 590 broadcaster Mike Wilner had an argument during a media scrum with Gaston about his field level decision making. Wilner detailed the confrontation on his blog.[27] The following day, Fan 590 - a station of Blue Jays owner Rogers Communications - announced he would not be covering the team for several days, but refused to specify the reason.[28]

Awards and honors[edit]

"Thank You Cito Night" on September 29, 2010 in Toronto

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Cito Gaston – SABR". sabr.org. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  2. ^ Canoe inc. "Cito Gaston: A baseball life". canoe.ca. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Leavy, Walter (March 1994). "Ebony: Cito Gaston: on top of the baseball world - baseball manager". Ebony. Archived from the original on 1 June 2005. Retrieved 17 May 2020.
  4. ^ "Global News – Latest & Current News – Weather, Sports & Health News". globalnews.ca. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  5. ^ a b "What a ride for Cito". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  6. ^ "San Diego Padres Top 50 Batting Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  7. ^ "Cito Gaston Baseball Stats by Baseball Almanac". www.baseball-almanac.com. Retrieved 17 May 2020.
  8. ^ a b "Cito Gaston" (in Spanish). purapelota.com. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
  9. ^ Craig, Tommy. "Words of advice from Tom Craig". Personal Management Coaching (website). Available online at: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-03-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "1993 All-Star Game". www.baseball-almanac.com. Retrieved 17 May 2020.
  11. ^ Loverro, Thom (1999). Home of the Game: The Story of Camden Yards. Taylor Trade Publishing. p. 136. ISBN 978-1-4616-2516-2. Retrieved 17 May 2020.
  12. ^ Stanley, Diane. My Personal Shawn Green Biography (website). Available online at: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2001-04-26. Retrieved 2007-03-06.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link). NOTE: This source is offered as a source although it is a personal website yet reflects common opinion at the time.
  13. ^ "Joe Carter". The Baseball Page. Archived from the original on 18 July 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  14. ^ a b "Cito Gaston". Baseball Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved December 23, 2014.
  15. ^ Stone, Mike and Bob Wojnowski. WDFN Sports Radio, Stoney & Wojo Show November–December 1999. Detroit Free Press and Detroit News reports citing Gaston's candidacy were discussed weekly while the Tigers searched for a replacement to Lance Parrish.
  16. ^ Greenstein, Teddy (22 October 2003). "Two of the leading candidates for the White Sox's manager vacancy have their pluses--and minuses". chicagotribune.com. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 17 May 2020.
  17. ^ "Ozz-fest in Chicago: Guillen new Sox manager". ESPN.com. ESPN. 3 November 2003. Retrieved 17 May 2020.
  18. ^ Brunt, Stephen. "The Game", Toronto Globe and Mail, June 21, 2008, p. S1; Blair, Jeff. "Out with the New, In with the Old", June 21, 2008, p. S1
  19. ^ Bastian, Jordan (May 11, 2009). "Gaston's second act a lot like the first". MLB.com.
  20. ^ Chass, Murray (19 November 2006). "ON BASEBALL; Managing Jobs: Recycling Seems Color Coded". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 May 2020.
  21. ^ "Gaston back with Blue Jays". cbc.ca. CBC Sports. 25 February 2002. Archived from the original on 1 December 2007. Retrieved 17 May 2020.
  22. ^ Carroll, David (27 September 2008). "Double Play: Gaston and Ricciardi back for 2009". tsn.ca. TSN. Archived from the original on 27 September 2008. Retrieved 17 May 2020.
  23. ^ "Manager Gaston retiring after 2010". 30 October 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-12-04. Retrieved 11 December 2009.
  24. ^ a b "Gaston apologizes, but doesn't back down, for racial comments". apnews.com. AP NEWS. 17 April 1997. Retrieved 17 May 2020.
  25. ^ a b c "Sources: Players don't want Cito back in '10". FOX Sports. Archived from the original on 16 October 2012. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  26. ^ a b "Cito Gaston Surprised at Mutiny in Blue Jays Locker Room". NESN.com. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  27. ^ "FAN590 – Blogs – Miked Up » Blog Archive » Again?". Blog.rogersbroadcasting.com. 2010-06-02. Archived from the original on 2010-08-09. Retrieved 2010-07-29.
  28. ^ Canada (2010-06-06). "Confronting Gaston not a wise career move". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved 2010-07-29.
  29. ^ Lee, David (10 June 2019). "From Roberta Bondar to Oscar Peterson: Here are 12 famous honorary degree recipients from U of T convocations past". utoronto.ca. University of Toronto. Retrieved 17 May 2020.
  30. ^ Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. Available online at: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-08-26. Retrieved 2011-11-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  31. ^ "Cito Gaston". Ontario Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved 25 September 2014.

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Bobby Doerr
Toronto Blue Jays Hitting Coach
1982–1989
Succeeded by
Gene Tenace
Preceded by
Gary Matthews
Toronto Blue Jays Hitting Coach
2000–2001
Succeeded by
Mike Barnett