Blue Jays honor skipper Cito Gaston

TORONTO -- Retiring Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston was honored with a pregame celebration before Wednesday night's game against the New York Yankees, Toronto's home finale.

Former players George Bell, Joe Carter, Pat Hentgen, Devon White and current outfielder Vernon Wells joined general manager Alex Anthopoulos, president Paul Beeston and Nadir Mohamed, CEO of team owner Rogers Communications, on a blue stage set up behind the mound and marked with Gaston's uniform number, 43.

Many current Blue Jays sat on the field at the edge of the dugout steps as Gaston, his arm around his wife, Linda, watched video tributes from fans, former players, teammates and colleagues including Hank Aaron, Roberto Alomar, Dusty Baker, Bobby Cox, Tony Fernandez, Paul Molitor, Dave Winfield and commissioner Bud Selig.

Wells gave Gaston a gift on behalf of the team, while Beeston presented him with first-class tickets to the destination of his choice and a portrait painted by Vernon Wells Sr.

Gaston teared up as he addressed the crowd and received a lengthy standing ovation.

After serving as Toronto's hitting coach for seven seasons, Gaston managed the Blue Jays from May 1989 through 1997, winning World Series titles in 1992 and 1993. He was hitting coach again in 2000 and 2001 before returning as manager in June 2008.

Wells complimented Gaston on his trademark mustache during the speeches. After the ceremony ended, many Blue Jays and coaches used a marker to draw fake mustaches on their faces.