Long before the reality shows, body switching, celebrity fights, and mayoral campaigns, there was simply Jose Canseco: professional baseball masher and suspected steroid user. Let’s take a walk down memory lane, shall we, with the “unauthorized and proud of it” issue of Baseball Superstars Comics: Jose Canseco.
Once you open the cover, you already know this comic is going to be amazing, thanks to a sunglass-wearing Jose Canseco, “The Misunderstood Man,” surrounded by all the things that make him so misunderstood. Like fast cars and tee-shirts which say “Leave Me Alone.” That’s our Jose.
We are then thrust back, back, deep into the past. Cuba 1959 to be specific. We know this because Jose Canseco’s father comes home and tells his wife “The communists have taken over Cuba. Fidel Castro is in charge of the government.” And if you think that’s needless exposition, I call it a character choice. Why, on the same page, as Jose and Ozzie are born, Jose’s father says that Ozzie will be named “Osvaldo Capaz, after my dead brother, God rest his soul…” You know, because that’s a thing a person would say.
As the two grow, we soon realize that Jose and Ozzie switching places a la The Parent Trap has long been a traditional, perhaps a symptom of their arrested development:
We also learn that young Jose was a voracious reader:
If I could get a tattoo of young Jose Canseco saying “Cool! Look at that shark!” on my face and remain gainfully employed, you better believe I would.
We then speed ahead and watch as Jose struggles as a ballplayer until his senior year in high school when he grows to 6’1” and starts bashing home runs. Still, scouts are more interested in Ozzie, believing that Jose has matured early and maxed out his body. Well, that is, every scout except Camilo Pascual who offers to pay for Canseco’s signing fee out of his own pocket.
Is this a thing? Can people even do this? I have no idea. And sadly, a quick Google search gives me nothing about this story. Could it have been lost to time?
Canseco quickly signs and heads to Miami where he struggles at the plate and in the field. Hell, let’s be serious, his fielding never really improved.
At the end of 1982, Jose and Ozzie return to Miami to hang out at the beach, grab some rays, and wear some awesome shades. Man, I wish I could be these one of these sweet bros.
Although, their views on the evil of the DH could be improved.
Canseco soon heads to Madison and Medford, and while he shows promise, he still struggles. But when his mother dies, Canseco puts all of his grief into tiny shorts working out, rededicating himself to the sport.
The change, purely natural, boosts his prospect status and he begins launching balls out of stadiums, quickly getting promotions to Huntsville and Tacoma before being called up the by the A’s. After striking out in his first at-bat (and 14 times in his first 20 at-bats), Jose adjusts, hitting 5 home runs in his brief call up.
In 1987, after warring with the press and teaming up with Mark McGwire as the Bash Brothers, Jose meets the love of his life. Where else? The gym. What do they bond over? I’m guessing 80s workout fashion.
Also, Jose proposes the only way he knows how:
With love in his life, Jose Canseco promises to become the first 40/40 man in Major League history. No one believes him, and yet, he pulls it off on September 23, 1988.
Of course, the first rumors of steroids use begins to circulate. Haha, but that’s ridiculous. Steroids? Why the hell would a baseball player use steroids?
Oh, if only we knew then what we know.
Soon, however, with his fame building, the Jose of Today begins to appear. Although being a no-show is better than what some of these fans would like to do:
Yeah, man, killing him is fine, but not showing up is downright irresponsible.
Canseco follows that up by breaking a contract to sign autographs, getting a speeding ticket at 125 mph and needing surgery to repair the hamate bone in his wrist. It’s okay though, all you have to do is call and Jose can give you a personal update on his life:
The actual number was 1-900-234-JOSE. Here are a few things you could hear when calling from the San Francisco Chronicle, courtesy of 1989 Oakland As:
“Yesterday, fans learned what kind of pitch Canseco hit in the first inning of Monday night’s game (a curve ball down and away that he lined past the third baseman) and what he had for lunch (Italian food at the mall). They also learned that their hero feared for his safety when a bat – the live version – circled above him in the outfield in Cleveland and that he faced the prospect of going hungry because there was no room service in his hotel after 10 p.m.
It was “basically kind of a boring game,” he mentions twice in the recorded message, even though the A’s won in extra innings. The pennant race notwithstanding, it also was a “boring” day on the road with a first-place team, Canseco says in a recorded five-minute message.”
Sounds enthralling. I just tried to call and, sadly, the number no longer exists. It’s not surprising, but I was secretly hoping Jose was continuing to update it, letting us know what kind of food he got at the mall today.
The comic soon ends, telling us that Jose has signed a $23.5 million dollar contract and wondering if Jose would soon be a 50/50 player. Sadly, time has proved all of our Canseco hopes false:
Well, except for the steroids thing. Actually, everyone was pretty spot on with that one.
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