Wednesday, 26 March 2014


                                      BLACK                     SOCIAL               HISTORY                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               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 1967–1978, most notably for the San Diego Padres and the Atlanta Braves. He spent his entire managerial career with the Toronto Blue Jays, becoming the first African-American manager in Major League history to win a World Series title.
Cito Gaston managed the Toronto Blue Jays from 1989–1997, and again from 2008–2010. During this time, he managed the Blue Jays to fourAmerican 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

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 into the Major Leagues. He adopted his nickname 'Cito' in preference to his given name 'Clarence'. Gaston later told Toronto Blue Jays broadcasters that the name was taken from a Mexican-American wrestler he watched as a young man in Texas. Other reports state that Gaston was given this nickname from a friend named Carlos Thompson who thought that Gaston resembled a 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 inOldsmar, 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

United States

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 hebatted .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]


In the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League, Cito Gaston played with the Cardenales de Lara (1967–1968), the Navegantes del Magallanes (1968–1972, 1975–1976) and the Tiburones de La Guaira (1976–1977).[8] Gaston scored 31 home runs and 207 RBI in 310 games (regular season).[8]

Managing career

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 Ebonymagazine: "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.Pre-World Series seasons

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 19911992 and 1993.

World Series seasons

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, riding high from a dedicated fan base and new stadium to play in when Gaston took the helm. The Jays opened theSkyDome a few weeks after Gaston became manager and the financial success translated into major free agent signings, including pitcher Jack Morris, and outfielders Dave Winfield and Paul Molitor. They also retained core All-Stars such as Joe CarterDevon WhiteRoberto Alomar and John Olerud. The Jays franchise won their first division title in 1985 and before Gaston was promoted, the franchise was known for failing to live up to expectations. Gaston was able to take superstars and mold them into a team. Outfielder and World Series hero 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 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. Though the World Series victory was widely recognized as the first ever for a non-American team, what wasn't as widely known was the fact that Gaston became 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.

All-Star manager

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.
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 thebullpen.[10] Mussina later claimed that he was simply doing a between-start workout, but some interpreted it was 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, and T-shirts were sold outside of Camden Yards that season bearing the phrase, "Will Rogers never met Cito Gaston," referencing the famous line by Will Rogers, "I never met a man yet that I didn't like."

Post-World Series

Gaston's success, like that of the Blue Jays franchise, 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 ownership 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. Yet, 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.[11] 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.[12]
Gaston was a final candidate for the Detroit Tigers manager's job in the 1999–2000[13] season and was the runner-up in the Chicago White Sox manager position in the 2003–2004 off season. Sox GM Kenny Williams, a former Blue Jays player, had Gaston as one of two finalists for the job but decided to hire Ozzie Guillén.[14][15] 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.[16][17]

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 officerPaul Godfrey.[18]

Managerial return

On June 20, 2008, Gaston was rehired as the manager of the Blue Jays to replace the fired John Gibbons. It was his first managerial job at the major-league level since being fired by the Blue Jays 11 years earlier—unusual for a World Series-winning manager. In his second tenure as manager, he succeeded in improving the team's record to the point that it finished over .500 after a poor start to the season under his predecessor, John Gibbons, that had the team in last place at the time of his rehiring. When Gibbons was fired, the team's record was 35–39; after Gaston and his coaching staff took over, the team earned a record of 51–37 for the remainder of the season which included a late ten-game winning streak and the Blue Jays finishing 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. He announced on October 30, 2009 that he would retire after the 2010 season.[19][20]

Managerial record

    World Series Championship
    League Championship
    Division Championship
TeamYearRegular SeasonPost Season
WonLostWin %FinishWonLostWin %Result
TOR19897749.6111st in AL East14.200Lost to Oakland Athletics in League Championship Series
TOR19908676.5312nd in AL East----
TOR19917257.5581st in AL East14.200Lost to Minnesota Twins in League Championship Series
TOR19929666.5931st in AL East84.6671992 World Series Champions
TOR19939567.5861st in AL East84.6671993 World Series Champions
TOR19945560.4783rd in AL East----
TOR19955688.3895th in AL East----
TOR19967488.4574th in AL East----
TOR19977285.4595th in AL East----
TOR20085137.5804th in AL East----
TOR20097587.4634th in AL East----
TOR20108577.5254th in AL East----
TOR Total894837.5161816.529


  • In April 1997, during a pre-game interview, Gaston accused specific members of Toronto's sports media (Toronto Sun columnist Steve SimmonsGlobe 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."[21] 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."[21]
  • 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,[22] his lack of communication, including his inability to properly communicate substitutions,[22] and his negativity, especially when it came to the younger players who required more positive reinforcement.[22] 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."[23] 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."[23]
  • On June 1, 2010 radio broadcaster Mike Wilner got into an argument during a media scrum with Gaston about his field level decision making. Wilner detailed the confrontation on his blog.[24]The Fan 590, Wilner's employer and a station of Blue Jays owner Rogers Communications, announced the following day he would not be covering the team for several days, presumably a suspension though The Fan 590 refused to state the reason.[25]

Awards and honors

  • BLIn 1970, Gaston was selected for the All-Star Game as a reserve outfielder.
  • Also in 1970, Gaston received the San Diego Padres team MVP award.
  • In 1989, Gaston was the "Baseball Man of the Year" in Canada.
  • In 1993, Gaston was voted "Sportsman of the Year".
  • Managed the American League team in the 1993 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
  • Managed the American League team in the 1994 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
  • The University of Toronto granted Gaston an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree in June 1994.[26]
  • In 1999, Gaston's Blue Jays uniform name and number (#43) were honoured by addition to the Rogers Centre's Blue Jays "Level of Excellence".
  • In 2002, Gaston was elected into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.[27]
  • Gaston was inducted into the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.
  • In 2008, Gaston was presented a Negro League Hall of Fame Legacy Award (Jackie Robinson Award).
  • In 2011, Gaston was inducted into the Ontario Sport Legends Hall of Fame.