Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

I believe you José

José Canseco’s controversial
book should be out later this
month of February. A lot of
people are upset at José’s
accusations, but who are
we to say they are not true?

By Amaury Pi-GonzálezCanseco’s books reveals that he personally
injected Mark McGwire with steroids inside
the Ahtletics bathroom stalls in the A’S
locker room at the Coliseum.
No, I was not there to see this, but who am
I to say José Canseco is making up these
stories ? Who are you to say same ?

Yes, Canseco wants to make money from
his book, most people that write books are
for personal profit, this is America after all,
a lot of things are done for profit, legally
and ilegally. We might not like Canseco
or what he says on his book,but that does
not means it is not true.

Tony LaRussa said that José is just jealous
of McGwire and that is one of the motives
for him to say that about Big Mac.
Canseco in his book also goes as far as
to say that President Bush(the owner of
the Texas Rangers)knew about the steroids
use among the Rangers players. Well, that
(at least in the Bay Area)should sell some
books for José.

When José Canseco arrived in the Major Leagues
he was already a muscle man. Mark McGwire
was not. I covered the Pre-Olympic baseball
game at Candlestick Park, USA vs Japan,
when McGwire played third base for the USA
He was a tall but skinny young man, not
muscle bound….yet. But years later
he transformed into Big Mac and became
another muscle man in a very powerful
lineup. The Bash Brothers !

I remember when José arrived in Oakland
as a rookie in 1985 and specially as Rookie
Of The Year in 1986. I remember he was
already a very corpulent young player, I
remember talking with his dad José Canseco
Sr, as he told me that while in High School
in Miami everytime José hit a Home Run he
gave José $5 dollars. I remember when José
signed the largest contract for a player in
the Major Leagues. I remember that right
after that contract fellow Athletic Rickey
Henderson (who had signed a multi-million
dollar contract days before)said that it was
not right for José to sign for more money
than him. I remember when Canseco’s
father used to tell me that his son was
always ‘working out’ at the Gym, he did
weights, he drank lots of milk, he was
a good and talented kid. Canseco hit
a memorable Home run at Huntsville,
the ball has not come down yet.
Everything I heard about Canseco in
the minors was positive. When Canseco
arrived with the A’S how can I forget
when Lon Simmons and I had a conversation
watching Canseco during batting practice
and we both agree that he ‘had it all’.
Lon thought he was going to be like
another Willie Mays. He had power,
speed,good defensive skills(which he
abandoned later)and hit over .300

I remember many times while I spoke
in Spanish with Canseco. I used to talk
to him about Cuba, but he remembers
little about Cuba since he left the island
as an infant. When I spoke with his father
he told me that José was “very americanized”
although born in Cuba he was never into
Salsa Music or a lot of the Cuban culture.
In one of my first interviews with José
I remember asking him what was his
favorite musical group or singer, or who’s
music he liked. He told me “Foreigner”
and some other rock groups I cannot
remember today. I remember telling
José about my program then on KIQI
1010 AM San Francisco “Recordando A
Cuba”(Remembering Cuba).In that show
during a decade I interviewed famous
Cubans like Desi Arnaz aka Ricky Ricardo
of I Love Lucy Fame,who told me he was
in San Francisco campaigning for his good
friend Ronald Reagan who was running for
President and in the words of Desi: “I am
here to get that Peanut Vendor out of the
White House”. Or the great Queen of Salsa
Celia Cruz. I used to play Cuban music
like Cha-Cha,Mambo,Rumba and in between
music invited these great Cuban figures.
José told me he only listned to Rock stations.
I once organized a Tribute to Canseco at
a Dinning-Dance Hall in San Francisco, José
never showed up. Other players and coaches
(most notable Cuban Cookie Rojas)made
the appearance and saved the event for
me and the organizers of Recordando A Cuba.
I know José a little bit, he was a like a kid
inside the body of a man. He didn’t keep his
appoitnments. He would be the first to admit
today he “screwed up”many times. José
Canseco is responsible for his shortcomings,
he cannot blame everybody else for his

José says something about Sosa that
is very true. Latino players still do not
get the respect from the Media that
they deserve. During my over 30 years
inside Baseball Press Boxes I have seen
and heard a lot of derogatory remarks
concerning Latino players.
Back in the 1970’s towards -what was
going to be the end of Roberto Clemente’s
career- I remember a Pittsburgh writer
saying in the Press Box at Candlestick
Park, right after Clemente struck out:
“sent him back in a banana boat”.
While in today’s game 30% of all players
are Latinos and you generally do not
hear coments like that anymore there
is still a culture that really doesn’t like
Latino ballplayers. So in that case, I
do not disagree totally with José on
his book. Yes there is still a current
of discrimination towards Latinos in
baseball and in society in general.
You might not like it, I of course being
Latino does not approve, but nevertheless
it is out there. So José, when he writes
about the Media treatment of Sosa is
very much in line with the truth.
Two years ago during the All Star
Game Homerun hitting contest in
Miller Park, Milwaukee, Curt Schilling
was on the sidelines with Mike Piazza
with ESPN Commentators when
Sosa came to the plate, Schilling
said (laughing) “baseball is been
very very good to me”refering to
Sosa. Schiling didn’t know the microphone
was on and you could see(it was live)
that the ESPN people were embarrased
by the remark and the way it was said.

The fact is that since Canseco got to the
Major Leagues a lot of people envy him,
his talent, his looks, his muscles and yes
his red Diablo-Lamborghini. Mister 40-40
was mostly liked by the fans not never
really by other players, specially those
that play next to him. Dave Stewart spoke
with LaRussa during the 1990 World Series,
he didn’t wanted José in the lineup.

The fact is that José Canseco has been
a controversial figure since he hit his
first Home Run for the Oakland A’S.
Nobody should be shocked at his book
or what he is saying on his book.

Steroids then were not illegal in baseball
so I take José for his word and there is
no reason whatsoever to say that José
wrote a book full of lies.

I take José for his words on this book
coming out as much as I take Barry Bonds
on his word he didn’t take steroids. We must
be consistent here. Hipocresy is abundant
in today’s world and baseball is part of
that world.

This past week in Miami, Mike Brito
famous L.A. Dodger scout who was
responsible for the signing of Fernando
Valenzuela (among other stars)was
inducted into the Cuban Sports Hall
of Fame. After the 2004 induction
when yours truly was honored and inducted
in the category of baseball announcing,
I ran into José Canseco Sr. He told me
about the book his son was writting about
this hot topic. I remember his dad telling
me in Spanish: “mi hijo no tiene el por que
mentir a nadie, el fue de los primeros que
admitieron el tomar esteroides y fue todo
un hombre en ese sentido”
(“my son has no reason whatsoever to lie
on his up-coming book, he was one of the
first to come out and admit to the use of
steroids, he was a man, a real man in that

Before we come to conclusions and all
jump and say Canseco is just a guy with
an axe to grind and with sour grapes and
with envy and with bad intentions, let’s
all take a chill pill and sit down and let
the truth unfold. Nothing is kept secret
forever. According to the powers-to-be
in Washington, D.C, the identity of
Deep Throat, during the Watergate scandal
that culminated with the resignation of
President Nixon will be revealed very soon.
So we will all know the truth about
steroids….Or will we ? Maybe it would
take years for some players to admit
to the use. It didn’t take much time for
José Canseco to go to the public and
to write this book.

This column looks like a defense of
José Canseco. Believe me, it is not,
it is the way I see things, and it is
too early to say that he is not telling
the truth.

Richard Conte of BALCO Labs fame
told CBS 60 Minutes that he personally
was in front of Marion Jones when she
injected steroids. Did you believe
Mr.Conte ? OK, so why not believe
Mr. Canseco ? All I am asking is for


1 marty { 02.08.05 at 3:25 pm }

Amaury thanks for a terrific insight into Jose Canseco as only you can give. Jose had many weaknesses which prevented him from realizing his true potential as a future Hall of Famer. His eyesight wasn’t one of his frailties and if he said he saw McGwire use steroids, I tend to believe him. McGwire has long been under the radar of this scandal and really for no good reason other than that he retired from basball and is still considered a well spoken icon of the game.
Most of the criticism of Jose today stems from former players being offended that Canseco told the secrets of the clubhouse: a major transgression in baseball circles.
The real test of Canseco’s credibility will come when it’s time to vote on the “BALCO” crowd for the Hall of Fame, then we’ll see what the baseball historians think of this sordid affair.

2 Anonymous { 02.08.05 at 11:09 pm }

Unfortunately, baseball historians won’t be voting for the hall of fame, select people who write for large newspapers will. Perhaps a subtle, but in my mind important distinction. Accordingly, I think that it will take much, much longer for history to judge.

Deep down inside, I think an objective person would clearly have thought that it is more likely than not that Mc, and others were juicing before Jose’s comments. People were holding on to their hopes in their heros. I think Jose’s comments should dash most of those hopes.

I also think that McGwire has 2 clear choices. Sue Jose for slander if they are lies, or sit back and take it if they are true.

If they are true, Mac can’t sue, because that will bring subpeonas to others, who would corroborate Jose’s story. I believe Mac will not act, and ultimately, that will seal his fate in my eyes.

How ironic will it be when Mac gets elected to the hall, and Roger Maris is on the outside looking in?

I am also looking at how much of his own integrity Tony LaRussa will continue to sacrifice in his defense of McGwire and Cardinal baseball.

3 Anonymous { 02.08.05 at 11:59 pm }


Jose’s major problem was his isolation, his distractions with Esther, his lack of guidance. Look at the obvious impact Bobby Bonds and Willie Mays have on Barry’s career, Jose just never had anything like that. And except for Ozzie, its hard to remember him ever having a pal –his lasting comment in Oakland ( “being on the A’s sucks because you have to play into October every year while most everyone elso goes home”) was so typical of his habit of making an idiot of himself.

And growing up in Miami, he seemed determined to NOT identify with Cuba — the incredible baseball heritage was there for him, all he had to do was identitfy with it, he just did not want to be associated with Cuba in any way. So instead of growing into the major league scene the way Livan did, Jose just became a cartoon character, and slowly but surely destroyed his career.

I remember when the International League had a franchise in Havana, the Sugar Kings — I remember so many great Cuban major leaguers, who put their heart and soul into the game — Jose did not do this, he was just tripping out, and he turned himself into a loser. Pretty tragic, really — and that is why his current book smells bad, even if the content is on target.

4 Anonymous { 02.09.05 at 8:30 pm }

Tell me about it ! I agree with you
I was born and raised in Cuba and arrived in the US
at 17 years of age. I remember the International
League, the first black Latino, Orestes(Minnie)Miñoso from Cuba and I even remember guys like Brooks Robinson when they were very young
and played in Cuba.
Although most of my life has been here
in the US, I am proud of being Latino and most
people with my background are also proud of
their Latino roots.

5 Anonymous { 02.09.05 at 10:04 pm }


do you remember the incredible ” Little World Series” in 1959 –the Reds team –Havana Sugar Kings against Boston’s Minneapolis Millers ( with Carl Yaztremski, among others ) –the Sugar Kings won in the bottom of the 9th of the 7th game

do you know of the incredible Cuban player, Martin Dihigo, who just may have been the greatest baseball player of all time, bar none?

do you remember when Havana was considered in such high esteem as a baseball center that major league teams regularly visited, and as Marty has posted, the Dodgers actually trained there?

do you remember when Cuba dominated the Caribbean and the big leagues, with Oliva, Cardenas, Cuellar, Pascual, Ramos –we never knew about the Dominican in those days

Cuba, que linda!

Jose Canseco had the tools to be historic, to be the pride of the whole continent, especially Cuba –he just didn’t get it — can you imagine Tony Perez in Jose’s body?

6 Anonymous { 02.11.05 at 10:53 am }

Yes, yes, yes and yes.
I do remember those great moments. My father
used to take me as a child to the Estadio de El
Cerro in Havana where the: Habana,Almendares,
Cienfuegos and Marianao where the 4 teams
during the Winter League.
Yes, indeed the first Caribbean World Series took
place in Cuba and Cuba dominated in the
José had more talent than anyother Cuban player
I have seen. Martin Dihigo (El Maestro)is the ONLY man in 4 Halls of Fame; Cooperstown, Cuba,México
and Venezuela. He could play all 9 positions, but
because of the color of his skin he never got a
chance to play in the Big Leagues.

7 Anonymous { 02.12.05 at 2:30 pm }

I believe Jose, too.

In his book, when Canseco claims he introduced McGwire to steroids in 1988 is consistent with the change in McGwire’s attitude that year.

In 1987, pitchers brushed back McGwire and even hit him on the head a few times while he was breaking the rookie home run record. McGwire would politely stroll to first.

In 1988, McGwire started getting somewhat flashy and even charged the mound a few times–not to mention getting bigger.

It’s predictable and sad how the media and the players are so afraid to admit that Canseco is problably telling the truth.
But those who have been in tune with baseball over the last twenty years realize that Canseco is revealing the dirty little secret about the rambant steroid culture in baseball.

Giambi says Canseco is delusional. This statement is coming from a players who has deceived his team, his fans, and the media for three years, until he was forced to admit his guilt before a grand jury.

It’s clear from the response that this book is receiving that many former Oakland A’s players loved McGwire and despised Canseco.

The way Tony La Russa has leaped to McGwire’s defense lately is sad because, even a manager, can be so naive to what was going on.

8 Anonymous { 02.13.05 at 12:13 am }

I think most people already believe and accept the core of what Jose is saying, but you have to remember that the MLB collective bargaining agreement and general operating rules were silent about any type of prohibitions against these practices at those times. Smoking pot could get you suspended, cranking up ( illegal but still rampant ) can get you in trouble with the law, but juicing up? no different than what most rich people do all the time with vanity and sex drugs.

But the very real and justifiable anger toward Canseco is the manner of his telling the story — if his narratives contained some balance, putting the perspective of the reasons why the use was so widespread against each individual’s choice to do so, his stories would enlighten society as to the real danger these drugs present –I mean, look at Lyle Alzado and Mike Webster, look at Caminiti, look at Jose himself

But I can’t find any compassion in Jose -or intelligence, or perspective- he is doing this for the spotlight, for strictly egocentric rreasons —he is a loser, a moron, he could have been an astounding baseball player with a legacy, instead he is lowering himself into the gutter

LaRussa is right on target, just like he always has been.

9 Anonymous { 02.14.05 at 2:29 pm }

I don’t think that Jose is a loser or a moron for speaking out. I actually think he’s quite brave to be talking about something that’s taboo, especially when you say it’s true about someone as revered as McGwire.

Some things that I haven’t heard talked about: the argument that McGwire didn’t use steroids is that he was so hard working. I believe Bonds is hard working, too. But that doesn’t mean that they also didn’t use steroids as well. With McGwire, one thing that seems forgotten today as well was how much he used to break down. From what I’ve read, one of the great things about steroids is your ability to come back quickly from injury.

There’s also been lots of talk about Dave McKay, but nothing about Bob Alejo who was the A’s strength and conditioning coach after that, and who followed Giambi to New York. Why isn’t any writer contacting him?

Also, why no quotes from Howe on this?

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