John Castino

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John Anthony Castino

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Biographical Information[edit]

"When I was 24 and in the majors, I felt invincible. I thought I could play until I was 45" - John Castino

“Just when you think you’ve seen him make his best play, he makes another one... I could think of only two other third basemen I’ve seen who could make those plays—Brooks Robinson and Billy Cox.” - Gene Mauch

John Castino was the 1979 American League Rookie of the Year, but his promising career was cut short due to chronic back pain.

John was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 3rd round in the 1976 amateur draft, after being a high school teammate of pitcher Ross Baumgarten in the Chicago, IL area. He started in Single A with the Wisconsin Rapids Twins of the Midwest League in 1976, hitting .286/~.390/.433 with 6 home runs in 65 games. The next year, he moved up to the Visalia Oaks for 72 games, hitting .329/~.397/.589 while scoring 54 runs, with 16 homers, 54 RBI and 13 steals in half a season. Brought up for 36 games to the Orlando Twins in Double A, he hit only .189/~.262/.278. The next year, 1978, he was ready for Orlando, hitting .275/~.325/.413 with 11 home runs in 137 games. He led Southern League third basemen in fielding percentage (.967) and made the league All-Star team as utility man.

John became the Twins' regular third baseman out of spring training in 1979, sharing Rookie of the Year honors with Alfredo Griffin of the Toronto Blue Jays. He played in 148 games, although he had only 393 at bats. His batting line was .285/.331/.397 with 8 triples. Those Twins were managed by Gene Mauch and players included Jerry Koosman, Roy Smalley, Rob Wilfong and Ken Landreaux. The next year, 1980, was even better for Castino. He hit .302/.336/.430 in 150 games, with 13 home runs, 7 triples and 67 runs scored. In both 1979 and 1980, he was second in the league in sacrifice hits. In 1981, Castino led the league with 9 triples in a strike-shortened season and hit .268/.301/.396 in 101 games. On September 2nd, his career hit its turning point. Diving for a ball off the bat of Dave Winfield of the New York Yankees, he felt pain and was forced to get an x-ray which discovered a hairline fracture in his vertebra that had exacerbated a previous condition that went undetected, called spondylolysis. John underwent spinal fusion surgery, a surgery that has ended the career of professional wrestlers who put their bodies on the line taking bumps all year round. Yet, improbably, he was ready to go in spring training in 1982.

The '82 tilt was a drop-off for Castino, who moved to second base to accommodate Gary Gaetti. His batting line dropped down to .241/.304/.344 in 117 games with 6 homers and 6 triples. The following year, 1983, was better, as he hit .277/.348/.403 with 30 doubles, 4 triples, and 11 home runs, scoring a personal best 83 times. In both 1982 and 1983, he played primarily second base, although he had had excellent range at third base in 1980 and 1981. The back problems came back something fierce in 1984. He was in pain, limiting him to only 8 games, yet he hit a scorching .444/.531/.481 at the age of 29. He played his last game on May 7th. After another spinal fusion surgery and about every possible treatment under the sun, he threw in the towel.

Castino went back to college, getting his degree with honors from Rollins College at the end of the 1984 season. He went on to earn an MBA from the College of St. Thomas. In 1987, he became an investment advisor. As of 2005, he was senior vice president at Wealth Enhancement Group in Wayzata, MN, where he worked with his cousin Jay Feely, a former NFL kicker.

Notable Achievements[edit]

AL Rookie of the Year
1978 1979 1980
Lou Whitaker John Castino & Alfredo Griffin Joe Charboneau

Related Sites[edit]