Canseco to appear at Cutters game

Jose Canseco changed baseball for what he believes is the better. But 13 years since the former American League MVP wrote his tell-all book about steroids in baseball, Canseco wishes he hadn’t written it.

He called his 2005 book, “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big” a double-edged sword. He still believes the game is better because of the revelations he made of rampant performance enhancing drug use in baseball, but he knows it hurt people around him.

“I talk about this a lot, I hurt a lot of my friends by naming them in the book,” Canseco said in a phone interview recently. “A lot of people suffered because of it, including me and my family. I do feel like it changed the game for the better. But what I went through with my family was tough.”

Canseco will be in Williamsport on Sunday to sign autographs and meet fans at the Williamsport Crosscutters’ game. He’s one of the big draws of the Cutters’ summer-long promotional schedule.

Canseco makes many appearances like the one he’ll make at Bowman Field on Sunday throughout the course of the year. He enjoys getting out to meet baseball fans. Occasionally, when he makes an appearance at a minor league game, he’ll try to take batting practice with the team. He’s also participated in home run derbies at all-star games, or at charity baseball and softball games.

Now 53 years old, the 1988 American League MVP has played with the Pacific Association’s Pittsburg Diamonds and Sonoma Stompers in each of the last three seasons. He’s totaled just 16 games played in those three seasons, but has eight hits, including a solo home run in 2015.

He continues to play poker against some of the best players in the world in made-for-TV events as well. He enjoys the challenge of it all and it feeds his competitive nature.

“All-around I’m just trying to stay in shape. I like playing in benefit baseball and softball games,” Canseco said. “I still love to play and I try to stay very active. I’m just trying to enjoy being semi-retired.”

Canseco hasn’t played in the big leagues since hitting .258 with 16 home runs and 49 RBIs in 76 games with the White Sox in 2001. Five years later, he released his bombshell book in which he named some of the sport’s biggest stars as steroid users. He believes he was blackballed from the game for writing the book which he now regrets writing.

The book and his relationship with steroids have been his lasting image in the game. He finished his career with 462 home runs and was the first player in Major League Baseball history to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in the same season. That 40/40 season in 1988 earned him the American League MVP award.

Despite being one of the preeminent power hitters of his time, Canseco received just six votes (1.1 percent) in the 2007 Hall of Fame voting. But Canseco isn’t concerned with how people view him as a baseball player. He hopes his legacy is more nuanced than that.

“I’d like to be remembered as someone who was honest no matter what I’m facing,” Canseco said. “I was brought up that way. I’d like to be remembered as a guy who always told the truth and as a guy who loved the game.”