Sunday, January 22, 2012

Clarence Gaston (#604)

This is the first "full" card for Clarence "Cito" Gaston. He previously appeared on a 1969 Padres Rookies card. Topps didn't begin referring to him as Cito until he became a manager.

Gaston was signed by the Braves in 1964 and spent 5 seasons playing in their minor-league system. His only big-league experience with the Braves was 9 games in September 1967.

Cito was the Padres' last (30th) pick in the October 1968 expansion draft. His minor-league days were now behind him, as Gaston made the Padres at the start of the season, and took over the starting center field job from Tony Gonzalez in game #4.

Cito's best season was 1970, when he hit 29 homeruns, batted .318, and was named to the all-star team. He was the team's regular center fielder for 3 seasons, then slid over to right field for 1972 and 1973. His final season with the Padres was 1974, which he spent as a pinch-hitter and part-time right fielder.

In November 1974 Cito was traded back to the Braves for pitcher Danny Frisella. He spent his last 4 seasons ('75-'78) as a pinch-hitter and outfield backup for Atlanta. On September 22, 1978 he was sold to the Pirates, and played 2 games for them before retiring after the season.

Gaston had greater success as a manager, piloting the Toronto Blue Jays from 1989 to 1997, and again from 2008 to 2010. His team finished in 1st place 5 times, including World Series championships in 1992 and 1993.


Cory said...

I still can't get over how stunning the contrast is on the back of the 1970 cards. Great color selection. i frikkin' love this set.

Matt Runyon said...

The Padres got some pretty good mileage out of the 30th pick in the expansion draft.

Jim from Downingtown said...


The Padres selected 8 outfielders in the expansion draft, but only #1 overall pick Ollie Brown had more starts that Gaston that first season.

Douglas said...

The Padres sophmore year (1970) was surprising hard hitting team made more remarkable by playing in a pitcher's park. The 172 home runs they hit in 1970 is still the franchise's record. Gaston's contribution of 29 home run was most unexpected of the Padres. A tremendous season.