Forget just baseball players, there have been few athletes period that have been as polarizing as Jose Canseco. While he was a talented player on the field, he is without a doubt best remembered for his off the field comments, revelations and his career decisions “post-baseball”. Here I will take a look at his up and down career and get into why few athletes have ever been as polarizing as him.
Canseco was born in Havana, Cuba and when he was barely a year old, his family moved and settled in Miami, Florida. Canseco took a liking in baseball from a young age and after playing very well throughout high school, he was selected by the Oakland Athletics in the 15th round of the 1982 MLB draft.
After three seasons in the minors, Canseco made his MLB debut when he was called up late in the season. Since he had only appeared in 29 games in the majors in 1985, he was still considered a rookie in 1986, a year which he would establish himself as a solid player. He was named Rookie of the Year and showed he was an all-around talent on the field. He continued to be solid, but ahead of the 1988 season, Canseco made a revelation that would make him much more well-known and propel him to superstar status.
A few months before the 1988 season, Canseco said he would hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases during the upcoming season, not knowing that the feat had never ever been completed. He would go on to live up to his promise as he hit 42 home runs and stole 40 bases, becoming the first ever member of the 40-40 club and was rewarded with the AL MVP award for his efforts. He continued to play until the early 2000s but his most famous moment would actually come after his retirement, in 2005.
In 2005, Canseco released a tell all book entitled “Juiced” in which he not only admitted to using steroids throughout his major league career, but also implicated a number of other players who he claimed used steroids including Jason Giambi, Mark McGwire and more. At first, all players involved denied use, but later on down the road, many admitted to it. In the book, Canseco also claimed that as many as 85% of MLB players were using steroids. The book went on to be a best seller and was front page news everywhere throughout 2005 on both sports and mass media platforms.
Since fading away from the spotlight in baseball (both on and off the field), Canseco has done a number of questionable things such as fighting in boxing and MMA (despite being in his mid to late 40’s at the time and losing in bad ways) and having had a string of legal troubles from custody battles to reckless driving and more. While there is certainly something a little off about the guy, there is no denying he is about as entertaining, outspoken and polarizing as any athlete ever.