Often, when I let someone know that I collect Jose Canseco baseball cards, I expect to be immediately be judged. Believe it or not, this began way back when Jose was still a baseball God and continued throughout what ultimately became a wasted career and very sad, often tragic, life after baseball.
When my mom accidently bought me a box of 1990 Topps Ames, well, first off, I was upset. I had gone into Ames looking for Classic WWF cards and when I could not find them, I figured a pack of playing cards would be a nice consolation prize for the long ride home. I didn’t even know what baseball was nor could I name any of the 30+, mostly boring looking players featured in the photos.
One guy, however, easily stood out from the pack. It was a young slugger with a determined look on his face and muscles bulging through his uniform that grabbed my attention and my imagination for the next three decades and beyond. Standing at 6 feet 4 and weighing 240 lbs., he could have easily been confused for a WWF mid card talent hailing from parts unknown.
I decided that day, that I would try to find more baseball cards of this fella, named Jose Canseco. Little did I know, Jose was the biggest and most famous player in the game at the time and with Ken Griffey Jr. still a few years away from taking over, Jose was also the game’s most talented star.
Unfortunately, Jose was a star burning out at a rapid pace. I spent the next two years obsessing over Jose’s cards and his televised games, as that’s all we really had pre-Internet. By 1992, the tide was turning as I was tuning into Oakland home games on ESPN to discover Jose was regularly being booed.
That year, 1992, Jose’s stats weren’t the usual all star numbers and aside from being booed every game at home and away, rumors began to swirl about Jose’s conduct with his teammates, coaches, fans, and even his wife. Simply put, Jose was a supernova on the verge of exploding and it would happen that very year.
By the end of the season, Jose would be a Texas Ranger, something that Jose himself wrote in his book, Juiced, almost drove him to suicide and really, who could blame him? By the beginning of 1992, Jose was a superstar. A good looking, rich, talented monster baseball player. By the end of the season, he had shrunken in stature and would never again be special.
One can study Jose’s early baseball cards and find a bevy of iconic images. For a few seasons, the man was truly larger than life. By the time his Rangers cards started leaking out in late 1992 and 1993, the mystique was gone. It also didn’t help that from that point on, Jose was a damaged human being and more injury prone than Mike Trout is today.
I was only truly was able to enjoy two years basking in the sun of being a Jose Canseco collector. Two, wonderful years when everything was Canseco’d, if you will. From 1992, into 2023, the man has been labeled at worse a rat to at best, a walking, talking caricature and a joke. Sadly, that’s the atmosphere I felt every single time I walked into a card shop asking for Jose cards and things have only gotten worse.
For most of my life, being a Jose Canseco fan was the equivalent of telling someone your favorite music artist is Kanye West, your favorite actor is Kevin Spacey, and your favorite Naked Gun film is 33 and 1/3. It’s telling that the most famous Jose Canseco super collector, Tanner, is best known for building the greatest Canseco collection only to sell off a year after. Jose Canseco collectors come and go, so I’m quite proud of my 33 years.
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3 thoughts on “How Texas Killed My Childhood”
Great story. Keep up the Canseco collection, nothing wrong with that.
I admire people who stay loyal to things through the thick and thin… even Canseco collectors and Kanye fans 😀
I grew up a Bash Brothers fan in the Bay Area with Canseco andc McGwire. He was a highlight in my PC too. Despite the steroids, I still am a fan. Keep up the collection.