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john castino, 1980 Topps #137, twins

Player: Castino, John

Card: 1980 Topps #137

Position: 3B/2B

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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 Anthony Castino (born October 23, 1954 in Evanston, IL) is a former Major League Baseball player. Castino played as an infielder, primarily at third base and second base, with the Minnesota Twins from 1979 through 1984.

Castino was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 3rd round of the 1976 amateur draft. He was signed by Tony Giuliani, ex-Brooklyn Dodger and scout. John made his major league debut with the Twins on April 6, 1979.

He played well in his rookie season and ended the season with a .285 batting average and 112 hits in 148 games. John's first home run was an inside the park homer. In the field he was tops among American League third basemen in turning double plays (31), and stood fifth in most assists, fewest errors, and best fielding percentage. His performance led him to be voted as (co) Rookie of the Year, along with Alfredo Griffin, who he tied in voting. His offensive numbers were in fact better in 1980 (.302/.336/.430). He also hit eight more homers (13) and drove in 12 more runs (64).

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. Castino’s career was derailed by this congenital back defect that became a chronic injury. Just five years later he was out of the majors.

In his Letters from Home Plate response, John lists Ernie Banks as his favorite player growing up, Ferguson Jenkins as the toughest pitcher he ever faced, and Kent Hrbek as his favorite teammate.

After retiring, 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.

(excerpted from SABR, Centerfield Maz, BR Bullpen & Wikipedia)


1981 Fleer #554
2009 Italian American Baseball Heroes #23


John is part of the Born in Chicago TourNext Stop

See John’s baseball cards at TCDB

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