Former Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston up for Hall of Fame consideration

Could Toronto’s legendary manager of back-to-back World Series champions be the 14th inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame with Blue Jays ties?
Chicago Cubs v Toronto Blue Jays
Chicago Cubs v Toronto Blue Jays / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY has announced an eight-person ballot that will be considered by its Contemporary Baseball Era Committee for Managers/Executives/Umpires in the Class of 2024. The ballot features candidates whose primary contribution to the game came since 1980, and includes legendary Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston, who led the team to back-to-back World Series championships in 1992-93.

The Contemporary Era Committee will meet to vote on December 3rd at baseball’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tennessee. A candidate needs 75% of votes from the committee to be elected to the Hall of Fame. The results will be announced live that day on MLB Network’s “MLB Tonight” at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Four managers including Gaston were nominated, with Davey Johnson, Jim Leyland and Lou Piniella being the others. As the first African-American manager to win a World Series, his importance in the game cannot be underestimated. Current Astros manager Dusty Baker, who is a close friend of Gaston’s, said one of the reasons he came back to manage again this year was to “do the ‘Cito Gaston’ and go back-to-back (World Series titles).” Johnson, Leyland and Piniella each have one World Series title.

The nomination for Gaston reads: “Cito Gaston managed 12 seasons, all with the Blue Jays, leading Toronto to back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and 1993. Taking over the team midway through the 1989 season, Gaston also piloted the Blue Jays to American League East titles in 1989 and 1991 while compiling 894 wins. The first Black manager to win a World Series title, Gaston also enjoyed an 11-year playing career with the Braves, Padres and Pirates.”

13 current members of the Hall of Fame have Blue Jays connections, with Fred McGriff and Scott Rolen being inducted this past July, while Roy Halladay was inducted posthumously in 2019. McGriff was elected unanimously by the Contemporary Baseball Era Players Committee.

After his playing career finished in 1980 at age 36, Gaston was the hitting coach in Toronto from 1982-89, and worked with many young Blue Jays sluggers, including George Bell, Lloyd Moseby, Cecil Fielder, Jesse Barfield and McGriff. Gaston had two stints as Blue Jays manager, taking over from Jimy Williams after a 12-24 start in 1989 and managing them through the 1997 season, and then again taking over from John Gibbons in his first stint as Jays Manager midway through the 2008 season through the 2010 season. He also returned as hitting coach from 2000-2001.

Gaston managed the Jays to a 894-837 (.516) win-loss record, four AL East pennants, and the only two World Series championships in the franchise’s 47 seasons. His winning percentage trails only John Schneider (.572), Bobby Cox (.549) and Williams (.538) amongst managers with at least 200 games with the club.

Gaston was inducted in the Blue Jays ‘Level of Excellence’ on July 30, 1999 and the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002. As his ‘Level of Excellence’ citation notes, “During his years as manager Cito gave much of his time to charity events throughout Toronto including the annual Cito Gaston Golf Classic.”

Cito Gaston would go into the Hall as a Blue Jay after spending his entire coaching career with Toronto, and that would be a great thing for the franchise. While there are surely other Blue Jays players deserving of HoF induction (Dave Stieb, anyone?), fans across Canada will be wanting all the best for Cito. Let’s go Cito!