1979 Rookie of the Year John Castino
John Anthony Castino was born in Evanston, Illinois on October 23, 1954. John played the three major sports in high school and ended up at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida via a scholarship. Castino played at Rollins College from 1974-1976 and is regarded as the best baseball player to come out of that school. John led the Tars to a 93-51-1 record and three Division II post season tournaments during his college career. In 1976 John Castino was named as a baseball All-American as well as the most valuable collegiate player in the state of Florida. Castino has since been inducted into the Rollins Hall of Fame and is also a member of the Sunshine State Conference Hall of Fame.
Castino was drafted in the third round by the Minnesota Twins in the 1976 amateur draft and started his pro career in A ball with Wisconsin Rapids and played in the minors in 1977 and 1978. John was invited to spring training with the Twins in 1979 and made the big league club out of training camp. Castino, who had exceptional range and a very strong throwing arm had a very impressive rookie season platooning at the hot corner with Mike Cubbage hitting .285 while scoring 49 runs and knocking in 52 more in just 393 at bats. This kind of play earned John a tie for the AL Rookie of the Year honors with Toronto’s Alfredo Griffin. John solidified his hold on the 3B job in 1980 by hitting 13 home runs and hitting .302 and was looked upon by many as the best 3B in the league. Unfortunately; during the 1981 Castino hurt his back and his only option was a spinal fusion which he had after the 1981 season. In spite of spending almost the entire off season in a body cast, Castino reported to spring training in 1982 on schedule even though he barely had gotten rid of his body cast. Unable to perform his normal off season workouts, Castino’s numbers dropped across the board. Couple that with the fact that Castino volunteered to move from third base to second base to make room for Gary Gaetti and it made for a rough season for John. Castino bounced back nicely in 1983, hitting 11 home runs and hitting .277 while getting a career high 563 at bats. But Castino’s back issues surfaced again in early 1984 and limited his season to just 8 games and that was a real shame because John came out of the gate on fire, getting 12 hits in his first 27 at bats for a .444 batting average and getting a hit in every one of the games he played in during the 1984 season. John played in his final big league game in Anaheim stadium on May 7 and then went on the disabled list for the rest of the season looking for a solution for his sore back. However; there was no solution to be found and John ended up with a second spinal fusion that ended his big league career.
Although John Castino’s time in major league baseball and the Minnesota Twins was relatively short in from a time perspective, his play, hustle and determination will not be soon forgotten. The Minnesota Twins organization also agrees with me because they have named John Castino as one of the 50 Greatest Twins of All Time. John had 2,320 at bats in 666 games, scored 293 runs, knocked in 249 RBI’s, stole 22 bases, hit 41 home runs and hit for a .278 average. Now days John is living in the Minneapolis area and is a Senior Vice-President at the Wealth Enhancement Group.
The interview with John is 53 minutes in length and took place in November of 2010.