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Cito Gaston        

Clarence Edwin "Cito" Gaston was born March 17, 1944 and is a retired manager and outfielder in professional baseball.

Clarence Edwin "Cito" Gaston (born March 17, 1944) is a retired manager and outfielder in professional baseball.

Cito Gaston managed the Toronto Blue Jays from 1989 to 1997, and again from 2008 to 2010. During his managerial career, he managed the Blue Jays to 4 Division Titles (1989, 1991, 1992 and 1993), 2 American League Pennants (1992 and 1993) and 2 World Series (1992 and 1993).

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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".

As a player with the Atlanta Braves, he was the roommate of the former all-time Major League Home Run leader, Hank Aaron. Gaston credits Aaron with teaching him "how to be a man; how to stand on my own."

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

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).

[edit] Managing career

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

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". It was only when his players encouraged him to take the job did he reconsider the offer.

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.

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 the SkyDome a few months 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 Carter, Devon White, Roberto Alomar and John Olerud. The Jays franchise won their first division title in 1985 and before Gaston was hired, 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

    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.

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. 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.

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 the bullpen.[9] 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."

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. 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 #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.

Gaston was a final candidate for the Detroit Tigers manager's job in the 1999–2000season 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. 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.

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

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Gaston deserves place among all-time great managers - MLB News ...
Cito Gaston and Bobby Cox are smiling, palms locked in a firm home-plate handshake on a singular night in baseball history. The photo was taken Oct. 20, 1992 ...

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