Joseph “Joe” Staton Jr., executive director of the Central Area Youth Association (CAYA) and former professional baseball player for the Detroit Tigers transitioned suddenly on June 20. Joe and his wife, Rhonda Bailey Staton, were very active in the local Seattle community and have supported each other’s endeavors for the 31 years of their marriage.
At CAYA, Joe has led hundreds of youth in after school sports programs and tutoring for more than 21 years. Joe was a calm and cool man in conversation, but he would talk excitedly about the CAYA kids and the inner city youth he coached in baseball in an introduction to baseball program by the Seattle Mariners. He was a mentor not only in sports skills and sportsmanship but in life lessons.
Born in Seattle on March 8, 1948, Joe learned his life lessons as a local athlete at Garﬁeld High School (Class of 1966). He was skilled in football, basketball, and baseball but his father, Joe Staton Sr. told him he had to choose one sport and excel. The elder Joe, an actor in Seattle’s Negro Repertory Company and a sports columnist for Seattle’s black newspaper, the Northwest Enterprise, also played ﬁrst base for the semi-professionals Seattle Royal Giants and the American Giants. So following his father’s pedigree and by nature being a perfect height (6’4”) for a ﬁrst baseman, he chose baseball for high school and career.
He went on to win the Seattle Negro League Triple Crown in his senior year and First Team All-Metro Honors. Major League scouts for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the California Angels saw him play and were prepared to draft him but life interrupted and he was brieﬂy married to the former Kathy Daniel and a son, Keith Eugene, was born., So he stayed in Seattle and played with a CAYA baseball team. The Seattle Studs, having been victorious in the Amateur Athletic Baseball Congress (AABC) National Tournament in 1965, nabbed Joe to help them defend the title. The tournament was held in Michigan and Detroit Tigers legendary scouting director Bernie DeViveiros saw him play and signed him to a contract. He was soon oﬀ to Tigertown, spring training camp in Lakeland, Florida for the Tiger organization. There, he made lasting friendships with Tiger legends Willie Horton, and Ike Blessing. He set records batting and stolen bases. When Joe was named to the all-star squad, General Manager Jim Campbell proclaimed, “We’ve got a rookie who can run faster than anyone in our organization — Joe Staton.” He played for the organization for eight years including the Mexico City Diablos in Mexico City. Joe’s parents, Joe Sr. and Aretha Glover Staton, are deceased. He is survived by the following: a sister, Sylvia Staton Reuben, who lives in San Diego and her children and grandchildren; son Keith who he reared as a single father; and children Jeﬀrey, Mario and Monique from other relationships. He leaves grandchildren, relatives, numerous friends. The marital team of Joe and Rhonda would have celebrated its 31st anniversary on July 27. A celebration of Joe’s life will be held on Saturday, July 30th, 11 am, at Mount Zion Baptist Church, 1634 Rev. Dr. S. McKinney Ave., Seattle WA 98122