Clarence Edwin “Cito” Gaston (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. His managerial career was with the Toronto Blue Jays where he became the first African-American manager in Major League history to win a World Series title. Cito Gaston managed the Toronto Blue Jays from 1989 to 1997, and again from 2008 to 2010. During this time, he managed the Blue Jays to four Division Titles (1989, 1991, 1992 and 1993), two American League Pennants (1992 and 1993) and two World Series (1992 and 1993). 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. 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.”
Category Archives: 1974
Carlton Ernest Fisk(born December 26, 1947), nicknamed “Pudge” or “The Commander”, is a former Major League Baseball catcher. During a 24-year baseball career, he played for both the Boston Red Sox (1969, 1971–1980) and Chicago White Sox (1981–1993). Fisk was known by the nickname “Pudge” due to his 6’2″, 220 lb frame. He was the first player to be unanimously voted American League Rookie of the Year (1972). Fisk is best known for “waving fair” his game-winning home run in the 12th inning of Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. At the time of his retirement in 1993, he held the record for most home runs all-time by a catcher with 351 (since passed by Mike Piazza). Fisk held the record for most games played at the position of catcher (2,226) until June 17, 2009 when he was surpassed by another “Pudge,” Iván Rodríguez. Fisk still holds the American League record for most years served behind the plate (24). Fisk was voted to the All-Star team 11 times and won 3 Silver Slugger Awards which is awarded annually to the best offensive player at each position. Fisk was known as a fierce competitor, a superb handler of pitchers and a natural on-field leader. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2000.
Willie Lee McCovey (born January 10, 1938 in Mobile, Alabama), nicknamed “Mac”, “Big Mac”, and “Stretch”, is a former Major League Baseball first baseman. He played nineteen seasons for the San Francisco Giants, and three more for the San Diego Padres and Oakland Athletics, between 1959 and 1980. He batted and threw left-handed and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1986. One of the most intimidating power hitters of his era, McCovey was called “the scariest hitter in baseball” by pitcher Bob Gibson, an assessment with which Reggie Jackson concurred. McCovey’s powerful swing generated 521 home runs, 231 of which he hit in Candlestick Park, the most hit there by any player, and included a home run of Sept. 16, 1966 described as the longest ever hit in that stadium. McCovey was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986. It was his first year of eligibility and he appeared on 346 of 425 ballots cast (81.4 percent). In 1999, he ranked 56th on The Sporting News’ list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. Since 1980, the Giants have awarded the Willie Mac Award to honor his spirit and leadership. The inlet of San Francisco Bay beyond the right field fence of AT&T Park, historically known as China Basin, has been redubbed McCovey Cove in his honor. Across McCovey Cove from the park a statue of McCovey was erected and the land on which it stands named McCovey Point. The Giants retired his uniform number 44, which he wore in honor of Hank Aaron, a fellow Mobile, Alabama native. McCovey was inducted to the Afro Sports Hall of Fame [www.afrosportshall.com], February 7, 2009 in Oakland, California. The mission of the Afro Sports Hall of Fame is to broaden the public’s understanding of African American/Ethnic history and the role of diversity and tolerance in the growth of professional sports.
Thurman Lee Munson (June 7, 1947 – August 2, 1979) was an American Major League Baseball catcher. He played his entire 11-year career for the New York Yankees (1969–1979). A perennial All-Star, Munson is the only Yankee ever to win both the Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards. Born in Akron, Ohio, Munson was selected as the fourth pick of the 1968 Major League Baseball Draft. Munson hit over .300 in his two seasons in the Minor Leagues, establishing himself as a hot prospect. He became the starting catcher late in the 1969 season, when the Yankees were reestablishing themselves after a few losing seasons. Munson played his first complete season in 1970, becoming Rookie of the Year after hitting .302. Considered the “heart and soul” of the Yankees, Munson became the first team captain since Lou Gehrig. He led the Yankees to three consecutive World Series, winning two of them. Munson died at age 32 while practicing how to land his Cessna Citation at Akron-Canton Airport. Munson was pinned by debris and killed by smoke inhalation in the ensuing fire while his two companions escaped the burned aircraft.
Rodney Cline “Rod” Carew (born October 1, 1945) is a former Major League Baseball first baseman, second baseman and coach. He played from 1967 to 1985 for the Minnesota Twins and the California Angels and was elected to the All-Star game every season except his last. In 1991, Carew was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. While Carew was never a home run threat (hitting fewer than 100 career home runs), he made a career out of being a consistent contact hitter. He threw right-handed and batted left-handed. Carew is a Zonian and was born to a Panamanian mother on a train in the town of Gatún, which, at that time, was in the Panama Canal Zone. The train was racially segregated; white passengers were given the better forward cars, while non-whites, like Carew’s mother, were forced to ride in the rearward cars. When she went into labor, a physician traveling on the train, Dr. Rodney Cline, delivered the baby, who was named Rodney Cline Carew in appreciation. When Carew was age 14, he and his family emigrated to the United States. He lived in the Washington Heights section of the borough of Manhattan, New York City. Although Carew attended George Washington High School, which former MLB star Manny Ramirez also attended, he never played baseball for the high school team. Instead, Carew played semi-pro baseball for the Bronx Cavaliers, which is where he was discovered by Minnesota Twins’ scout, Monroe Katz (whose son, Steve, played with Carew on the Cavaliers). Katz then recommended Carew to another Twins’ scout, Herb Stein, who signed Carew to an amateur free agent contract (at the Stella D’Oro Restaurant in the Bronx) on June 24, 1964.
David Gene “The Cobra” Parker (born June 9, 1951 in Calhoun, Mississippi) is an American former player in Major League Baseball. He was the 1978 National League MVP and a two-time batting champion. Parker was the first professional athlete to earn an average of one million dollars per year, having signed a 5-year, $5 million dollar contract in January 1979. Parker’s career achievements include 2712 hits, 339 home runs, 1493 runs batted in and a lifetime batting average of .290. Parker was also known as a solid defensive outfielder during the first half of his career, with a powerful arm. From 1975 to 1979, he threw out 72 runners, including 26 in 1977. He was a baseball All-Star in 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1985, 1986, and 1990. In the 1979 All-Star Game, Parker showcased his defensive ability and powerful arm by throwing out Jim Rice at third base and Angels catcher Brian Downing at home. Parker also contributed an RBI on a sacrifice fly and was named the game’s MVP. In the early 1970s, as a member of the Pirates AAA minor league ball team Charleston (WV) Charlies, Parker hit a home run that landed on a coal car on a passing train and the ball was later picked up in Columbus Ohio. Parker never got more than 24% of votes on Hall of Fame ballots and his 15-year Baseball Writers Association of America eligibility was exhausted on the 2011 ballot.