Every November my mom’s parents went to Arizona to escape the cold Iowa winters. We went and visited a couple of times, but the year that sticks out in my mind is the one where we went during Major League Baseball spring training the year after Mark McGwire was named AL Rookie of the Year. My brother was an Oakland A’s fan, so we went to see two then rising stars, McGwire and his “Bash Brother” Jose Canseco. Paul and I were hopeful of getting autographs from players after the game, because the spring training atmosphere tends to be more laid back, with far fewer people swarming players for autographs than during the regular season.
During the game we sat next to the on-field clubhouse entrance for the Oakland A’s, which meant we could see all the players walking past in between batting practice and the actual game. When Mark McGwire came through we asked him for his autograph and he stopped and graciously autographed baseball cards for my brother and I, along with a few other kids. We got lucky with the timing, because it was a moment when it wasn’t interrupting anything to do with the game.
After the game, someone suggested we wait at a specific point where the players come out from the locker room if we wanted to catch Jose Canseco. We waited around for awhile and there were few other people around. His then-girlfriend Esther Haddad, a former Miss Miami who later became his first ex-wife, showed up in his shiny red sports car to pick him up. As Jose came out we politely asked for his autograph. He blew us off and climbed in the driver’s seat of his car. Miss Haddad generously offered her autograph as a consolation, I think realizing that her boyfriend was being a jerk. I had plenty of experience getting autographs from players prior to this, so I realize there are times when players simply don’t have time, but that particular instance leaves me bitter.
I bring this up because once again Jose Canseco finds himself in the news as the subject matter expert on PED use in baseball. Canseco recently told ESPN:
“And I’ll tell you this, Major League Baseball is going to have a big, big problem on their hands when they find out they have a Hall of Famer who’s used.”
I’m assuming he’s pointing a finger at Rickey Henderson since it hadn’t come out until this week and nothing Canseco has done previously suggests he’s strategic in the way he reveals information. No matter what he says, or maybe because Jose Canseco says it, every time I hear his name in reference to steroids, I don’t think about him being the cheater everyone is painting steroid users to be, I just think Jose Canseco is that jerk who wouldn’t sign my baseball card.