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10/04/2010

So Long Cito

Richard Lautens, Staff Photographer

 A Toronto icon has just retired. 

 Cito Gaston has been in and out of the sports limelight for 20 years or so here in Toronto. He started as a hitting coach 5 years before I came to the Toronto Star but I only remember him from when he became Manager in 1989-just in time for the SkyDome to open.

  He was always very gracious whenever I had anything to do with him and I never saw or heard anything that would detract from the image he portrayed to the media. Down at Spring Training in Dunedin, Florida I would occasionally see him in an out of the way bar having quiet conversations with a few friends, players or members of the media and he never looked out of control or looked like he tried to throw his celebrity around. 

Of course, covering the two World Series here was magical.  Cito always was available and helped provide an awful lot of excitement and entertainment-not to mention newspaper sales.

  I was at Cito's (a nickname by the way as his real name is Clarence) final game at the Rogers Centre last week. He was controlled and quick to thank the fans, his team, the Jays' owners and even the New York Yankees for their patience during the farewell ceremony prior to their game. A class act all the way, something that is all too rare in the sporting world.

  I must admit he never provided too many pictures for photographers but I will miss him for the success he brought to a city desperately in need of something to cheer about.

 

Cito_closeHat_better
Cito with a tip of the hat to the crowd

Cito_lynda_hug
Cito gets a hug from wife, Lynda

Cito_joeGeorge
A couple of old pros, George Bell and Joe Carter, were on hand

Fans900 The fans feeling the love, and the facial hair

2ndBase900 Even the out at second had a Cito flavour

Cito_last hug900 Cito gets a last hug from pitcher Ricky Romero

Gatorade700

Of course Ricky couldn't leave it at the hug and douses Cito with Gatorade

Cito_behind

rlautens@thestar.ca

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Thanks, Richard! Great tribute to a great man, someone I wish I could meet in person just to talk for a few minutes or better yet, a few hours. Very classy and one from which some of the other coaches and managers here in Toronto could learn a lot from. I love the pictures, and I hope someone is putting together a magazine of the Cito years including a DVD of the send-off ceremony. Now THAT would really make a lasting tribute and I would be one of the first in line to get my hands on one.

He's one of the great ones. Perhaps he would consider a career coaching the Leafs?

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