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Cito Gaston: The First African-American Manager to Win Baseball’s World Series

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Cito Gaston occupies a special place in the history of baseball. He won the Baseball World Series and became the first African-American manager to achieve this feat. His impact is significant due to the small number of black people in the sport. Although his playing career wasn’t the flashiest, he made his mark as a manager. In this article, we share everything you need to know. 

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Cito Gaston’s Early Career

Cito grew up in a humble home. His father was a truck driver, and aside from his baseball dreams, he aspired to be a truck driver. He studied at Wheatley High School and then joined Holy Cross High and Solomon Cross High. Born Clarence Edwin Gaston, he adopted his name Cito from a Mexican-American wrestler he liked watching. 

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Cito Gaston’s Career

Cito began his career in 1967 with the Atlanta Braves. He played nine games before the San Diego Padres bought him the following year. His first game with the team came in 1969. 

After he settled into the team, the outfielder recorded his best performance in 1970. He made the highest batting average of a San Diego Padres player, scoring 92 runs, 29 home runs, and 93 bat-ins. This earned him a place in the All-Star Season team.

However, Gaston wasn’t able to replicate this level of success. He stayed with the San Diego Padres until 1974, after which he returned to the Atlanta Braves. After three years with the Braves and a year with the Pittsburgh Pirates, he wasn’t able to inspire interest in any other Major League Baseball (MLB) team. He traveled to Mexico and played for minor leagues. 

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Managerial Career

After he retired from playing, three calls from Tom Hanks helped him to transition into management. He turned down the first two opportunities and eventually accepted the third. In 1982, he started as a hitting coach for the Toronto Blue Jays. In 1985, the team won the title and held the role until 1989.

After the departure of Jay Williams that year, Cito Gaston became the new manager. However, he revealed that he only took the job after his players convinced him to. Gaston transformed the team into multiple division winners. They won the league in 1991, 1992 and 1993.

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Winning the World Series

Cito Gaston was a soft-spoken coach. He was praised for being a player’s manager. As a result, he earned the fans’ loyalty, and most of the team’s senior players chose to remain with the team. They won the signature of players like Dave Winfield, Jake Morris and Dave Stewarts

With a squad loyal to his tactics, the Toronto Blue Jays played in the World Series Games in 1992 and won in game 6. This marked a historical moment as Cito Gaston became the first African-American manager to win the baseball World Series. The following year, he helped the team win another championship. He stayed on with the team until 1997.

In 2002, the manager was listed in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Cito Gaston deserves wide recognition for what he achieved. He came back to management in 2008, but his second reign wasn’t as successful. Regardless, he had nothing left to prove. 

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