Jose Canseco And The Fourth Of July
By David Hill
When one thinks of the Fourth of July, one thinks of cookouts, the Founding Fathers signing the Declaration of Independence, and fireworks. When one thinks of Jose Canseco, one now thinks of how he exposed the steroid era in baseball, ushering in the era of drug tests and suspensions.
Yet, before that, Canseco was known for the home run that bounced off his head into the stands, and for the fireworks he provided with his bat. Canseco hit over 40 home runs three times in his career, and had over 25 homers in 10 of his 17 seasons in the majors. He also became the first person to hit 30 home runs in a season for four different teams, doing so for the Oakland A’s, the Texas Rangers, the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
During a 6-3 loss to the Blue Jays on July 4, 1999, Canseco led off the top of the fourth inning with home run off Pat Hentgen, hammering the pitch to deep left field. For the season, Canseco would play in 113 games, hitting at a .279/.369/.563 rate with 34 home runs and 95 RBI. He also joined Roberto Hernandez that year on the American League All-Star game, marking the only time between 1998 and 2007 that the Rays had multiple All-Stars.
That season would be the last time Canseco was an every day player. After injuring his back and being lost for the remainder of the 1999 season, he played sparingly for the club in 2000, before being released and claimed by the New York Yankees. He played one last year in 2001 with the Chicago White Sox before being out of organized baseball. Since 2004, he bounced around various independent leagues and reality programs.
While Jose Canseco’s stay in Tampa may have been brief, he provided the Rays with their first entry in the Major League Baseball record book.