May 14, 2002
CHICAGO -- Former AL MVP Jose Canseco announced his retirement Monday, 38 home runs shy of the 500 he hoped to reach to bolster his Hall of Fame chances.
Canseco, 37, was cut by Montreal in spring training and signed a minor league contract with the Chicago White Sox on April 18. He was hitting .172 with five homers and nine RBIs in 18 games at Triple-A Charlotte.
"Jose felt that because of personal reasons and a strong desire on his part to spend more quality time with his young daughter, it was time to announce his retirement," Alan Nero, Canseco's agent, said in a statement released by the White Sox.
Canseco didn't come to the ballpark Monday, and Knights manager Nick Capra said he found out the slugger was retiring through a news release.
But it wasn't a total surprise, Capra said.
"I just saw some frustrations that Jose was having this year," he said. "He just didn't look comfortable at the plate."
Canseco's decision leaves him with 462 home runs, 22nd on the career list, three behind Dave Winfield. A career .266 hitter, Canseco finishes with 1,407 RBIs and 200 stolen bases in 1,887 games with Oakland, Texas, Boston, Toronto, Tampa Bay, the Yankees and the White Sox.
He's one of nine players in history with 400 homers and 200 steals. His 34 home runs in 1999 remains a single-season record for the Rays.
"He's one of the most knowledgeable hitters I've been around," the Mets' Mo Vaughn said. "He was the first 40-40 guy, MVP, rookie of the year, and he's got a couple of rings under his belt. So he's had a tremendous career."
His numbers would be more gaudy if not for injuries. He spent time on the disabled list in seven of his last 10 seasons, mostly with back problems.
As one of the Athletics' "Bash Brothers" with Mark McGwire, Canseco was one of the most colorful players in the game.
He hit 33 homers and drove in 117 runs in 1986, earning him rookie of the year honors. In 1988, he led the majors with 42 homers and 124 RBIs, and was a unanimous choice as MVP. He was the first to hit 40 homers and steal 40 bases, and he led the A's to the first of three straight AL pennants.
Oakland won the World Series in 1989, but it was Canseco's homer in Game 4 of the AL Championship Series that stands out. He put Mike Flanagan's pitch in the upper deck of Toronto's SkyDome, some 480 feet away, a place where no ball had been hit during a game.
Canseco was as entertaining off the field as he was on. He drove his cars fast, and he was cited several times for driving violations such as speeding. He once was arrested for having a gun in his car at a hospital.
He bashed the car of his first wife, Esther, and had a rendezvous with Madonna. He once brought a large land tortoise into the Oakland clubhouse, and he drew complaints from his neighbors because of his unusual collection of pets.
Even his misfortunes were the stuff of tabloid fodder. When he blew out his right elbow May 29, 1993, he was pitching mopup duty for the Rangers late in a rout by Boston. The injury eventually cost him the last half of that season.
He once had a ball bounce off his head and over the wall for a homer.
"Jose had done some things in his career that gave the impression that he wasn't very smart, but he was very smart," Vaughn said.