Skill, scrutiny mark Canseco's career
Inaugural 40-40 member on Hall of Fame ballot for first time
A blend of speed and power made Jose Canseco one of a kind in his era.
In fact, he hit home runs and stole bases so often for the Oakland Athletics in 1988 that he became the first player in Major League history to do both at least 40 times in the same season.
The charter member of the 40-40 club has company now, but he was the epitome of brash-and-dash during his halcyon days with the A's, teaming will fellow Bash Brother Mark McGwire to torment pitchers from every team in the American League from 1986 through 1991.
Canseco's 17-year MLB career ended after the 2001 season. He finished with a .266 career batting average, 462 home runs, 1,407 RBI's, six All-Star Game appearances, a Rookie of the Year Award, one Most Valuable Player Award and almost as many headlines on the front pages of tabloids as the back pages.
While many fans may remember Canseco for his admission in 2005 to using anabolic steroids, as well as his accusations about rampant performance-enhancing drug use in a bestselling tell-all, "Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big," the former American League MVP was once among the most feared players in the game.
Indeed, it was never a dull moment for the swashbuckling Canseco, who is among the 32 former players listed on this year's Baseball Writers' Association of America Hall of Fame ballot.
This is Canseco's first year of eligibility. A candidate must get 75 percent of the vote to gain election and at least five percent to remain on the ballot for next year. Results of the 2007 BBWAA Hall of Fame election will be announced on Jan. 9, and the induction ceremony will take place on July 29 in Cooperstown.
After his family escaped from Cuba when he and his twin brother, Ozzie, were infants, Jose grew up near Miami, developed a well-chiseled body and played baseball well enough to be selected by the A's in the 15th round of the 1982 First-Year Player Draft.
He needed fewer than three full seasons to reach the big leagues, debuting late in the 1985 season with the A's. Canseco struck out a lot (31 times in 96 at-bats), but still batted .302, hit five home runs and drove in 13 runs.
That was just the beginning of a career that produced enough material -- on and off the field -- to fill sports pages and gossip columns simultaneously.
On the field, Canseco is the first player in Athletics franchise history to drive in at least 100 runs in back-to-back seasons, and the second to hit at least 30 home runs in three consecutive seasons. He surpassed the 100-RBI mark five times during a six-year stretch (1986-91) and won the MVP Award in 1988.
The A's were in the limelight a lot those days, and Canseco maintained one of the highest profiles. Some of his home runs became legendary, especially the upper-deck home run he hit at Skydome in Toronto during the 1989 American League Championship Series.
Though injuries cost him most of the 1989 regular season, limiting him to 65 games and 17 home runs, Canseco performed well in the postseason in helping the Athletics capture the World Series championship, batting .357.
A well-developed offensive machine by '89, Canseco also was one of the game's most popular players. He did not play one game the first half of the season, but fans voted him into the All-Star Game as a starter.
Canseco retired on May 14, 2001, ending an MLB career that included stints with the Athletics, Rangers, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Devil Rays, Yankees and White Sox.
He was one of only nine players in history with 400 homers and 200 stolen bases at the time of his retirement.
"I thought he was the most complete athlete I've ever managed," said Tony La Russa, Canseco's manager in Oakland. "This guy really could run and when he was concentrating, play defense. And he loved to take the tough at-bat. Injuries just took the important part of his career from him."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.