|Taylor, 18, gets his baseball autographed by former Jays manager Cito Gaston at the London Convention Centre. (QMI Agency/Mike Hensen)
There are a lot of things many people will agree on when talking about former Toronto Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston, most of them good.
As Cito Gaston rides off into the sunset, though, there's one question that will rage on in circuitous debate. Was Gaston a good manager or were the two World Series he won a result of having so many good players in the lineup, no one could fail to win.
Not that the debate matters much to Gaston.
The two-time former manager of the Jays is happy doing what he's doing now and doesn't expect to make any kind of return to the managerial ranks. He was in London Monday to attend the Sports Celebrity Dinner and Auction. Gaston finished up his second stint at the Jays manager at the end of last year. John Farrell has taken over.
For a quiet man, Gaston proved to be a lightning rod for controversy. From his managerial career where Gaston never got enough credit for his ability to manage, to his claims of racism to what was a surprising inability to get a job managing any other team.
But one thing never changed for Gaston. He was always popular with the fans.
Gaston is technically still an advisor with the Blue Jays. He says he doesn't miss managing right now.
"Once spring training starts then I probably will miss it and when the season starts I will miss it," he said. "I do have experience in not being around for 11 years. I told Joe Torre, Lou Piniella, (former managers) this is their first time. They are going to have to make some adjustments. I do have some experience in that."
Gaston is referring to the time he spent away from the game after being fired by the Jays late in 1997.
Gaston's resume included two World Series wins and four division titles. He was the manager of the first team from outside the United States to win a World Series and was also the first African-American manager to win the World Series.
Yet until he returned to the Jays in 2008, he didn't land another managing job in the big leagues even though he came close twice.
"It took two years before I even had an interview for a job," he said. "I turned down some interviews that I didn't think were right for me. I just thought they were interviewing me because they felt like they just needed to interview some minorities."
Despite constant bleating about Gaston's stacked lineup, there are an awful lot of good teams that should win World Series who don't. The criticism that all Gaston had to do is fill out a lineup card, doesn't hold much water. "A lot of people thought that way but if they go back and look at some of the people that were successful, they pretty much had the same kind of lineup."
The man born Clarence Edwin Gaston addresses the failure of many people to acknowledge his ability as a manager, in a roundabout way. "The only thing that really disappointed me was never being voted manager of the year," Gaston said. "If you don't get voted manager of the year the first year when you come in and your team is 12-24 and you come back and win your division, you're never going to get it. That does bother me but there's nothing I can do about it now."
Two World Series wins is a large legacy. Far better than many others who earned kudos for their managing abilities but unlike Gaston, couldn't win baseball's top prize.