Legendary Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston among the names on Era Committee ballot for Hall of Fame’s 2024 class
By Cam Lewis1 month ago
A former Blue Jay was elected into the Hall of Fame this year by the Era Committee. Might we see another one make it in next time around?
The National Baseball Hall of Fame announced on Thursday that Cito Gaston, Davey Johnson, Jim Leyland, Ed Montague, Hank Peters, Lou Pinella, Joe West, and Bill White are the eight names who will be on the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee ballot for the class of 2024.
The Era Committee, which has also been known as the Veterans Committee, is how players get voted into the Hall of Fame if they didn’t make it during their 10-year eligibility on the BBWAA ballot after they retired. It’s also a way for managers, umpires, and other members of the game who aren’t a part of the BBWAA voting to get in as well.
Much like the standard Hall of Fame vote, there are 16 members on the Era Committee and an individual needs 75 percent of the votes among that committee to be elected into Cooperstown.
The panel voting on the class of 2023 was comprised of Hall of Fame members Greg Maddux, Jack Morris, Ryne Sandberg, Lee Smith, Frank Thomas and Alan Trammell, Major League executives Paul Beeston, Theo Epstein, Derrick Hall, Arte Moreno, Kim Ng, Dave St. Peter, and Ken Williams, along with veteran media members Steve Hirdt, LaVelle Neal and Susan Slusser.
Fred McGriff was elected with 16 of 16 votes, while Don Mattingly, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and a handful of others didn’t make the cut.
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Cito Gaston played 1,731 games as a player in the Major Leagues and won two World Series championships as a manager with the Blue Jays
Gaston signed with the Milwaukee Braves as an amateur free agent in 1964 and made his big-league debut with the team in 1967 after they moved to Atlanta. One year later, he was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 1968 Expansion Draft, which featured them, the Montreal Expos, Kansas City Royals and Seattle Pilots.
In his second season with the Padres, Gaston put together far and away the best performance of his playing career, slashing a .318/.364/.543 line with 29 home runs and 93 runs batted in. He was named to the National League All-Star team that season and finished 24th in MVP voting.
Other than that season, Gaston’s career as a player didn’t feature much to write home about. He played parts of 11 seasons between the Braves, Padres, and Pittsburgh Pirates and slashed a .256/.298/.397 line with 91 home runs and 387 runs batted in.
Gaston joined the Blue Jays in 1982 as the team’s hitting coach and later took over as the team’s manager in 1989 when Jimy Williams was fired mid-season. The Blue Jays started out that season with a putrid 12-24 record but they went 77-49 the rest of the way and won the American League East.
A few years later, Gaston led the Blue Jays to back-to-back World Series Championships, defeating the Atlanta Braves in 1992 and then the Philadelphia Phillies in 1993. In doing so, Gaston became the first-ever African-American to lead a Major League team to a World Series.
Gaston was known as a laid-back player’s manager, and he was beloved by his players for knowing them all individually on a human level. In 1994, Joe Carter spoke about believing that Gaston’s leadership was critical to the team’s back-to-back World Series wins.
“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 was fired late in the 1997 season but returned to manage the Blue Jays again a decade later. His second stint was highlighted by the 2010 season, in which the Blue Jays put together a surprisingly good 85-77 record, led by Jose Bautista’s breakout 54-homer season.
Gaston retired at the end of that season, ultimately finishing his managerial career with an 894-837 record.
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