Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

September 9, 1985, Canseco's first home run

The world of baseball will never be the same
after this the “steroid era”20 years later
we remember the first home run by the
man that introduced steroids to Major League
Baseball, born in Regla(a little town on the other
side of Havana Bay) Cuba, José Canseco.

José Canseco was named the Minor League
Player of the Year in 1985 when he went from
AA Huntsville to AAA Tacoma batting .333
with 36 home runs and 127 runs batted in
in just 118 games. His home runs in Huntsville
were legendary.

By Amaury Pi-González

Click below for more of Amaury’s interesting retrospective article.
The day was September 9, 1985
when the Cuban-born slugger hit
his first home run against the
Texas Rangers.
He would follow by hitting another
461 “jonrones”until he retired
in 2001.

“I introduced steroids to Major League Baseball”
said José for the first time to his ex manager
with Boston Kevin Kenedy when Kennedy hosted
the first XM Satellite MLB Home Plate show on
XM Channel 175. “I changed the face of baseball
as we know it today” added José on that same
historic radio program. The rest is history…

The first Hispanic of impact was the great
Puertorican player Roberto Clemente, first
Hispanic player to have 3,000 hits.
Today Major League Baseball is exploring
the retirement of Clemente’s No. 21 in
all Major League Ballparks. Just like legendary
Jackie Robinson No.42 was retired in 1997
as a simbolic act for the first African-American
player to reach the Major Leagues.
1997 was the 50th anniversary of Robinson
debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Clemente’s number should be retired by all
teams and It probably will be. A humble man
(many don’t know was a US Marine at one
time)Roberto born in Carolina Puerto Rico
played for 18 eeasons and was one of the
most all around players in history a 12-time
Gold Glove winner and 12-time All-Star.

Just like Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente
is a symbol of the globalization of the game
of baseball.

When José Canseco arrived with the Oakland
Athletics I was the first Hispanic reporter to
talk to him(interviewed him)in Spanish. He was
very nervous, stutered some and told me his
Spanish was not very good. But we always seem
to get along well enough and with time he
would speak more often and even sometimes
during batting practice approached me and
started talking to me. A couple of years later
in Arizona during Spring Training I did a special
interview for Telemundo Network with José
and his new red Diablo Lamborghini. We
talked about everything, even his “visits” to

Now, Canseco is about to write a second book,
after his first one was a profetic one and he has
indeed changed baseball as we know it. Did he
set up from the start to do this ? of course not,
he always felt that baseball black-balled him and
no team wanted to sign him towards the end of
his career ending just 38 home runs short of
the magical 500 number which basically puts you
in the Hall of Fame. But I doubt that Canseco
(even without this steroids scandal)and even If
he hit 500 or more would have been elected
to Cooperstown.

José was never popular with the mainstream media
in this country, many were simply jealous of his
tremendous popularity with the fans, the average
people. Canseco had such impact on baseball that
he actually was more like a Rock Star than a
baseball player.

Back at KNTA radio in Santa Clara when I was
doing the Oakland Athletics games and also on
KSTS CH 48 Telemundo when I was doing the
A’S games also on Spanish television many of
the wopmen at those stations, not into baseball
would asked me about José. He had a tremendous
following by females, mostly because of his good
looks and appeal. Some of these women wanted
A’S tickets just to see José,many seeked to meet
him. I would bet his first book probably was
bought by more women than men, although I
do not have such statistics, I would not be
surprised at all.

In 1988 after he became the first player ever to
hit 40 home runs and steal over 40 bases, the
first 40-40 man, I organized a special recognition
party in a very good Spanish food restaurant in
San Francisco. It was during early 1989, that was
the season when the A’S of Rickey-McGwire-Canseco and company would win the World
Series against the Giants. The group I was
putting together for the special dinner for José
Canseco was like 120 people, more or less.
I could have done this at the Convention Center,
many many more than I thought wanted to

Today, José is also on some television shows and
he has a “second career”coming with his second
book on the way.

During one of my earlier interviews with José
I asked him about his “heroes” and he always used
to tell me that Arnold (our Governor)was his
idol, he never missed his action movies and he
was also into weightlifting. This I verifeid with his
father José Canseco Sr who told me José always
-since he was a teenager- would work out with
weights. Today all this makes sense, since it is
normal to assume our Governor also took steroids,
although he is not going to speak about and after
all the Governator has more important things to
do, like trying to survive his political career which
is in a heep of trouble.

Today 20 years later after José Canseco hit
his first home run on September 9, 1985 we can
see this whole picture much more clear and

Here is the great irony I see. Hollywood has never
done a movie about Roberto Clemente’s life, he
died in trying to help others and at the age of
38 dissapeared with a DC 7 he had chartered
loaded with relief supplies leaving San Juan,
Puerto Rico on the way to Managua,Nicaragua
for the earthquake victims of that country.

But I will bet you anything Hollywood is not far
away from producing a movie about José Canseco’s
story, because he is José Canseco and for one,
he could play himself in the movie and second
he still has a lot of appeal out there, by all kinds
of people of box sexes. And If is something that
can make money, Hollywood wants it.
Canseco is pop culture and it sells and right now
he is looking very good after his first book and
other revelations like his countryman Rafael
Palmeiro and God knows how many more
big name stars that will prove positive for that
stuff in the near future. Only God knows.


1 Anonymous { 09.05.05 at 12:05 am }


One day in 1988 I was near the SF Marina when Jose and Esther pulled up in their absurd car. When they walked past me I asked Jose how proud he must be to carry on the tradition of Cuban baseball players, and maybe become the greatest of them all —he looked at me like I was deranged, like the last thing he wanted to identify with was his own heritage, his own self —this was his ultimate problem, he had no humanity

As a young kid growing up in NYC I got to see Clemente when he came into the Polo Grounds–Clemente was an enormously charismatic man, humble and quiet by nature but just fierce in competition, an incredible right fielder who could hit anything — he was the soul of the Pirates

it is impossible for me to think about Canseco and Clemente in the same context — one renounced his heritage, the other was empowered by it –one mocked and cheated the game, the other honored it with everything he did

Thanks for this article –invoking Clemente is the best way to cast Canseco in the proper perspective.

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