Clarence Edwin “Cito” Gaston (1944- )

Cito Gaston
Cito Gaston as manager of the Toronto Blue Jays
Photo by Mike F. Campbell / 76wins (CC BY 2.5)

Clarence Edwin “Cito” Gaston is a baseball manager, coach, and outfielder. He became the first African American baseball manager to win the World Series when the Toronto Blue Jays won in 1992.

Clarence Gaston was born to Sammy Gaston and Gertrude Coley on March 17, 1944, in San Antonio, Texas. Gaston’s adoption of the nickname “Cito” was often disputed growing up. He claims he adopted the name from a Mexican-American wrestler he watched when he was young. Another claim was that he adopted the name from a friend, Carlos Thompson, who thought he resembled a Cito wrestler. Gaston attended Wheatley High School in San Antonio, Texas, for a year, then transferred to Holy Cross High School and Solomon-Coles High School in Corpus Christi, Texas. Gaston graduated from Solomon-Coles High School in 1962.

After graduating, Gaston played semi-professional baseball in local leagues from 1962 to 1964. In 1964, Gaston was spotted by a scout from the then-Milwaukee Braves at a game and immediately signed him. Gaston would make his Major League Baseball debut in 1967 with the now-Atlanta Braves for a season. Gaston signed with the San Diego Padres in an expansion draft the following season and started playing with the team in 1969. Gaston’s best season with the team came in 1970 when he was selected for his first and only MLB All-Star game. He would remain with the Padres until the 1974 season. Gaston signed with the Braves for a second time the following season and remained with them until the 1978 season. He would then play with the Pittsburgh Pirates for part of the 1978 season and retire at the end of the season at the age of 34.

In 1982, Gaston became the hitting coach for the Toronto Blue Jays. With Gaston as one of the coaches, the team won its first division title in 1985. He remained a coach until the 1989 season when he became manager of the team. Under Gaston’s management, the Blue Jays became a significant World Series contender. During the 1992 season, the Blue Jays won their first World Series against the Atlanta Braves in six games. With that win, Gaston became the first African American to lead his team to a World Series.

Gaston and the Blue Jays won another World Series in 1993 after defeating the Philadelphia Phillies in six games. Gaston remained with the Blue Jays until the end of the 1997 season, when he was fired. He rejoined the team as hitting coach during the 2000 season and remained with the Blue Jays through 2001. In 2008, Gaston was rehired as manager of the Blue Jays and would stay in that position until the end of the 2010 season.

Gaston was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002. In 2006, Gaston was inducted into the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame. Two years later, in 2008, Gaston was given a Negro League Hall of Fame Legacy Award (Jackie Robinson Award). He was inducted into the Ontario Canada Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.

Gaston has been married three times. He was married first to Lena Green Gaston. The couple had two daughters, Rochelle and Shawn, before divorcing. Gaston married a Canadian citizen, known as Denise, but the couple also divorced. Gaston married a third time to a woman named Lynda.