Jose Canseco has been in the news a lot lately, mostly due to the allegations of rape against him and the resulting fallout. But while the past couple of weeks may have driven Canseco up the wall, he had one of the worst weeks of his career 20 years ago.
Wednesday, May 26, 1993. Canseco's Rangers were taking on the Cleveland Indians. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Kenny Rogers was on the hill and Carlos Martinez was at the plate. Martinez connected and hit a deep fly ball to right field. Canseco got a beat on it…and this happened.
Yup…the infamous "homer off of Canseco's head". His complete ignorance about what happened could have been the best part. "Oh yeah, it hit off of my glove!" OK Jose, whatever you say.
But Jose's week from hell wasn't over yet.
Saturday, May 29th, 1993. The Rangers were in Boston, and were getting hammered 12-1 in the eighth inning. Because of the blowout, a position player requested to manager Kevin Kennedy that he be allowed to pitch. I'm sure you can guess who it was.
And that happened. Jose Canseco took the hill against the Red Sox, and…well, he pitched about as well as you'd expect. Canseco allowed three runs on two hits in his inning of work, walking three and striking out none.
Starting from the game where the ball hit off of Canseco's head, he struggled over the rest of the season, hitting just .153/.203/.271 in the 17 games remaining in his season. His last game of the season was less than a month later on June 23rd. Hilariously, Canseco's one inning pitching appearance injured his arm, necessitating Tommy John surgery for the outfielder. That's right: he threw one inning, and blew his arm out, but still played for nearly a month after initially injuring his arm, though he primarily did serve as a DH.
The Rangers were paying Canseco $4.8 million in 1993 (about $7.8 million today), and the decision to let him pitch was absolutely ridiculous. Texas acquired Canseco from the A's in August 1992 for Ruben Sierra, Bobby Witt, and Jeff Russell, none of whom lit the world on fire with Oakland. But could you imagine that happening in 2013? If the Giants let Hunter Pence pitch in a game last year after they picked him up from the Phillies, there would be an absolute firestorm in the baseball world.
It's fun to look back at Canseco's disastrous week now, 20 years later, but I can only imagine what sportswriters thought of it then.