My Vagabond Binder is a project I've slowly been building featuring players who bounced around a lot during their careers. A player is "inducted" when I fill a page featuring 9 different cards from 9 different teams. Following Rickey Henderson and Benito Santiago, here's the third completed page so far: Jose Canseco.
If you look at his stats
, Canseco only played for 7 MLB teams. But thanks to a pair of zero-year cards, I was able to fill 9 slots. Let's take a closer look at these cards and trace his journey.
Jose is one of those guys that baseball fans love to hate and hate to love, though these days it seems even Canseco supercollectors have given up trying to defend him. But he's a legend in the hobby thanks to being among the most exciting players in the game during the cardboard boom of the late 80s and early 90s. His "40/40" season was a big deal in 1988, and he followed that up the next year by leading Oakland to a championship. No special significance for this '92 Upper Deck subset card, I just happened to have a duplicate of it, so it got the call to the binder to represent his glory days on the A's.
August 31, 1992: The Bash Brothers era officially came to a close when Jose was traded by Oakland to the Texas Rangers for Jeff Russell, Ruben Sierra, Bobby Witt and cash. His stint in Arlington quickly took the shine off his budding legacy thanks to bouncing a home run off his head in the outfield and getting injured while pitching mop-up.
The Rangers traded Jose to the Red Sox for Otis Nixon and Luis Ortiz before the '95 season. While his two years in Boston aren't all that well remembered today, it was arguably his most productive bang-for-your-buck stop, with both his .298 batting average and 141 OPS+ being the best marks he put up for any org during his career.
I figured I'd show the backs of this pair, too.. giving you a chance to see Jose taking a couple big cuts, with a quote from fellow slugger and former teammate Reggie Jackson.
Canseco reunited with Oakland for 1997 (not pictured since I've already got an A's card of him in the mix) before signing as a free agent with Toronto for a season. His 46 taters with the Blue Jays in '98 would stand as his career high.
The turn of the millennium saw Jose playing close to home with Tampa Bay. 1999 was his final trip to the All-Star game. Man, those old chrome Gold Label cards sure look great.. not like the crappy foilboard reboot Topps recycles every year these days.
After the Devil Rays put Jose on waivers in August of 2000, the Yankees took a chance on him and he finished out the year in the Bronx. He went to spring training with the Angels in '01, but they cut him loose before the season started.
Instead, Canseco began 2001 suiting up with the independent Newark Bears for a couple months. After showing he could still play, the White Sox purchased his contract and he'd go on to hit the last few of his 462 career home runs while with Chicago.
The Expos had him in camp prior to the 2002 season, but he didn't make the squad. The White Sox gave him another shot on a minor league deal, but ended up releasing him after batting .172 in AAA. In the ensuing years, he'd play for several more independent clubs, sometimes with sincerity, sometimes as a gimmick to bring in fans. Then there was a tell-all book, and a wrestling thing, I think, and reality show appearances, a firearms mishap, and unhinged social media rantings. You didn't hear it from me, but there are rumors that he even used steroids during his career. But yeah, he sure could punish the ball in his prime!
So there you go.. 9 cards for 9 teams for Jose Canseco.
Next up for the Vagabond Binder will likely be a journeyman pitcher.. top candidates being Goose or Hoyt, if I can swing it without pilfering from the respective PCs too hard.
Thanks for reading.