Jose Canseco Biography
Jose Canseco is a former outfielder who became the first member of baseball's 40-40 club, demonstrating a previously unheard of combination of power and speed. Most of Canseco's on the field success, however, is overshadowed by his role as a whistle-blower, due to his book "Juiced," an expose of steroid use in the sport that eventually led to Congressional hearings on the matter and increased drug testing in baseball.
Jose Canseco was born July 2, 1964 on the island of Cuba. He and his family left Cuba when he was still an infant. Along with his twin brother, Ozzie, Jose Canseco grew up in Miami, Florida, attending Coral Park High School. In 1982, the Oakland Athletics drafted Canseco, who opted to skip college and immediately join the A's organization in the minor leagues.
Over the next few years, Canseco's powerful home run blasts earned him plenty of attention, and in 1985 he was named Baseball America's Minor League player of the Year. The Athletics decided to call him up to the majors at the age of 20, and Canseco made his debut on Sept. 2, 1984. In 100 plate appearances, Canseco hit five home runs but also struck out 31 times.
In 1986, Canseco's first full season, he hit 33 home runs en route to the American League Rookie of the Year Award. The next season, combined with the 49 home runs hit by teammate Mark McGwire, the duo became known as the Bash Brothers and began celebrating a home run by banging their elbows together became an oft-imitated move.
In 1988, Canseco set a new standard for baseball players, becoming the first-ever member of the 40-40 club, hitting 42 home runs and stealing 40 bases. He became the first member of the Oakland Athletics to drive in 100 or more runs in three consecutive seasons, and, after helping lead the A's all the way to the World Series before losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers, he unanimously took home the AL's MVP Award.
Despite the success on the field, Canseco's off-field antics were garnering as much, if not more, publicity. After missing most of 1989 with a broken wrist -- though he still managed to hit 17 home runs in just 65 games -- Canseco remained in the headlines thanks to several speeding tickets and a citation for carrying a loaded handgun in his car.
Canseco returned to form over the next two seasons, hitting 81 home runs from 1990 to 1991. However, after having signed a five-year $23.5 million deal -- at the time was the highest in the sport --, Canseco's celebrity was starting to interfere with his play on the field. In what became a notorious incident at Yankee Stadium in 1991, Canseco and a vociferous fan nearly exchanged blows after the fan heckled the outfielder over his highly-publicized relationship with singer Madonna.
The following season, as his performance dipped slightly (only 22 home runs) and the hometown fans started booing Canseco on a regular basis, the Athletics opted to trade away the outfielder, in the middle of a pennant race.
While Oakland went on to the playoffs, Canseco went on to the Texas Rangers in exchange for Ruben Sierra, Bobby Witt and Jeff Russell. With the Rangers in 1993, Canseco's obvious flaws as a defensive player were on full display.
On May 23, one of the most infamous bloopers took place, as a long fly ball from Carlos Martinez of the Cleveland Indians struck a leaping Canseco on the top of the head and sailed over the outfield fence for a home run. Later that same week, Canseco talked his way into pitching during a 15-1 blowout loss to the Boston Red Sox.
Although it seemed comical at the time, within a month after the outing, Canseco needed to undergo elbow surgery as a result of the stress of pitching, and his season was over. No longer suited for playing in the field, the Rangers made Canseco a full-time DH in 1994. He did hit 31 home runs and drove in 90 RBI, but the team felt his inability to play the field was too much of a liability. They traded Canseco to the Boston Red Sox in the off-season for Otis Nixon and Luis Ortiz.
In Boston, Canseco's injuries mounted -- a sore groin, rib cage issues, the elbow, and a back injury exacerbated by his aggressive swing. Although he hit 52 home runs over two seasons, he spent far too much time on the disabled list for the Red Sox' liking. Before the start of the 1997 season, he was sent back to Oakland.
Back in Oakland, Canseco was reunited with Mark Mc Gwire. The reunion did not last the season, as Mc Gwire was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals at the trade deadline and the very next day, Canseco's back forced him to the disabled list for the remainder of the season.
In 1998, Canseco signed a one-year contract with the Blue Jays and had his most productive season since 1991. Hitting 46 home runs and driving in 107 runs, Canseco managed to play in 151 games and remaining free from injury. However, his .237 batting average and a career-high 159 strikeouts scared most teams away from a contract the following season.
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays finally bit on Canseco, as they had finished last in the American League in home runs in 1998. As the DH, Canseco smashed 34 home runs, though he did land on the disabled list with a back injury and missed most of July and early August. When 2000 saw Canseco once again on the disabled list, missing the month of June, Tampa Bay grew frustrated and waived him on Aug. 7, where he was claimed by the New York Yankees.
The claim was seen as more of a "defensive" move to prevent other teams from benefitting from anything left in Canseco's tank than a pressing need by the Yankees for power. Still, Canseco hit six home runs in 37 games for the Bronx Bombers.
An aborted attempt to join the Anaheim Angels in 2001 ended when the team cut him during the spring. After a brief stay with the Newark Bears of the Independent League where he played alongside his twin brother Ozzie, Canseco joined the Chicago White Sox on June 21. He did manage to hit 16 home runs, but at the age of 36, the end was clearly near.
After being cut by the Montreal Expos before the start of the 2002 season, Canseco announced his retirement in May.
Although Canseco did attempt a comeback in the spring of 2004 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and played briefly in the independent Golden Baseball League again in 2006, Canseco's major league career ended with a total of 462 career home runs.
Canseco did not fade gently into the sunset after his retirement. Instead, he penned a tell-all book, "Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big," in which he admitted to using steroids and made the claim that nearly 85 percent of all major leaguers did the same.
Canseco called out several of his former teammates including Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Jason Giambi, Ivan Rodriguez and Juan Gonzalez. At the time of the book's publication, all the players denied the claims, but Giambi and Mc Gwire did eventually admit publicly to the use of steroids.
Congressional hearings were held on the whole issue of steroid use in baseball, sparked by the buzz created by Canseco's New York Times best-seller.
In 2007, Canseco announced plans for a sequel to his book and suggested that Alex Rodriguez would be named as having tested positive for steroid use back in 2003. Canseco's claims, originally not believed, were eventually confirmed by Rodriguez in early 2009.
Canseco himself was detained in October 2008, attempting to bring fertility drugs across the border from Mexico, which he claimed were needed to assist him in helping him recover from years of steroid abuse. Canseco was ultimately sentenced to a year of probation for the incident.