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Former Braves Gaston, Johnson up for Hall of Fame election

Cito Gaston and Davey Johnson, who both spent part of their playing careers with the Atlanta Braves, could be part of the 2024 Hall of Fame class.

Sports Contributor Archive 2020
Cito Gaston spent parts of five seasons as a player with the Atlanta Braves.
Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images

Yesterday, The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum announced eight candidates eligible for election for the 2024 induction class. This year’s group is part of the rotating Era Committee voting process. This year’s cycle is for managers, executive and umpires from what is considered the Contemporary Baseball Era for contributions to the game after 1980.

Among the group of eligible men up for election by a 16-member electorate, as appointed by the by the Hall of Fame Board, are four former managers, two umpires and two executives.

Although the Braves organization was not represented by any of the candidates who spent time in a managerial or executive role with the organization, two men did spent part of their playing careers with Atlanta.

Cito Gaston spent five seasons with the Braves, debuting in 1967 and then spending four years primarily as a reserve outfielder from 1975 to 1978, after a six-year stint with the San Deigo Padres that included an All-Star selection in 1970.

With Atlanta, Gaston played in 258 games garnering 550 plate appearances. He collected 126 hits and 14 home runs while slashing .250/.300/.364 during his Braves career.

Gaston became the first African-American manager to win a World Series, when the 1992 Toronto Blue Jays defeated Atlanta, and then won the World Series again with Toronto in 1993.

Between two tours of duty as manager of the Blue Jays, Gaston won 894 games and four division titles to go along with the two World Series championships.

Atlanta Braves
Davey Johnson (r) and teammates Darrell Evans (l) and Hank Aaron each hit 40-or-more home runs during the 1973 season with Atlanta.
Photo by Focus on Sport via Getty Images

Davey Johnson spent two full seasons as the Atlanta Braves starting second baseman in 1973 and 1974 before being released by the organization four games into the 1975 season.

A four-time All-Star during his career in MLB, Johnson was an All-Star in 1973 for Atlanta. During that historic season, Johnson slugged 43 home runs, joining teammates Henry Aaron and Darrell Evans to become the first trio of teammates to hit more than 40 home runs in a single season - a feat that was matched by the 2023 Braves teammates of Ronald Acuña Jr., Marcell Ozuna, and Matt Olson.

In 294 games with Atlanta, Johnson accumulated 266 hits, 58 home runs and slashed .262/.365/.477, good for a 128 OPS+. Johnson spent the remainder of the 1975 season as well as the 1976 season playing professionally in Japan before returning to MLB for the final two seasons of his playing career.

Prior to joining Atlanta, Johnson was a three-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner for the Baltimore Orioles, with whom he played for the first eight seasons of his career, a stretch that saw him win two World Series championships.

Johnson began his managerial career with the New York Mets in 1984, winning two division titles and the 1986 World Series with the team. After seven seasons at the helm with the Mets, Johnson would go on to manage four different franchises between 1993 and 2013. He would not lead a team to another World Series but did finish the season in first place four times.

The other nominees from this year’s class include umpires Joe West and Ed Montague, former National League President Bill White - who also had a successful playing and broadcasting career - and executive Hank Peters who spent 42 years in front office roles and is credited with building successful rosters for the early 1970s Oakland A’s, the late ‘70s and early 1980s Baltimore Orioles and the mid-1990s Cleveland Indians.

The other two managers up for election are Lou Piniella and Jim Leyland.

Piniella led the 1990 Cincinnati Reds to a World Series championship and oversaw the 2001 Seattle Mariners team that won a record 116 regular season games. In total, he spent 23 seasons as an MLB manager for five different organizations after an 18-year playing career that including two World Series championships with the New York Yankees in 1977 and 1978.

Leyland was well-known to Braves fans as the first half of his 22-year managerial career saw him lead the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Florida Marlins to three different memorable postseason appearances against Atlanta during the 1990s. Those included the 1991 and 1992 NLDS losses to the Braves while with the Pirates and the 1997 NLDS defeat of Atlanta by the Marlins.

During a managerial career that spanned four decades, Leyland led teams to six division titles (three each for the Pirates and the Detroit Tigers), eight postseason appearances, two AL pennants with the Tigers in 2006 and 2012 and Florida’s 1997 World Series championship.

Results of the vote for the 2024 class will be made on December 3, 2023.

Last year’s Era Committee voted to induct former Atlanta Brave Fred McGriff as part of the Contemporary Baseball Player cycle. Next year’s cycle will be for Classic Baseball before returning to Contemporary Baseball Player for 2026.

For more information on this portion of the Baseball Hall of Fame voting process and this year’s class, you read this announcement on the official National Baseball Hall of Fame Web site.

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