MIAMI (CBSMiami) – They’ve combined to hit more than 1,109 home runs and drive in more than 3,357 runs, both at one time were South Florida legends, and both will likely never see the inside of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame except on a tour thanks to performance-enhancing drugs.
Jose Canseco and Alex Rodriguez both started out their career in South Florida at local high schools. Canseco starred at Coral Park High School and A-Rod was a star shortstop for Westminster Christian in Miami.
Canseco’s career got started around a decade before A-Rod would become a number one overall pick of the Seattle Mariners. Canseco started his professional baseball career in Double-A ball as a member of the Huntsville Stars.
Canseco quickly built a reputation for clubbing long home runs garnering the nickname of “Parkway Jose” in reference to a road that was some distance behind the stadium’s outfield fence. Canseco quickly ascended to the Major Leagues and by his second season in the pros, hit 33 home runs.
The Oakland Athletics teamed up Canseco with Mark McGwire as the “Bash Brothers” for their power hitting the ball. Canseco would go on to win the Most Valuable Player award in 1988 after he hit 42 home runs and stole 40 bases.
But, Canseco’s career would start to falter as he dealt with injuries in the late 1990’s. Canseco’s best season came in 1998 when he hit 46 home runs and drove in 107 runs. Canseco’s later career was best known for him getting hit in the head with a fly ball that ended up going over the fence.
Canseco would have a road named in his honor in Miami and he finished his career with 462 home runs and 1,407 RBI’s to go along with 200 stolen bases, and 1,877 overall hits.
A few years after Canseco’s career ended, he became the primary whistleblower about steroids in baseball when he wrote a book titled “Juiced.” Canseco admitted to using steroids himself, which didn’t surprise many. But, Canseco’s claims at the time were not considered to be legitimate
That quickly changed as baseball’s steroid culture was exposed, but Canseco’s image never recovered and since then he’s largely become a joke of his former self.
While Canseco’s career was winding down in the late 1990’s, Alex Rodriguez’s career was just starting off. Rodriguez starred at Westminster Christian and in 1993 the Seattle Mariners selected him with the top overall pick.
Rodriguez was a star for the Mariners and was a power hitter at just 20-years-old. A-Rod hit at least 40 home runs from the age of 22 through the age of 27. Rodriguez was also able to join Canseco as one of the few members of the 40/40 club when he hit 42 home runs and stole 46 bases in 1998.
A-Rod’s career hit a new level when he signed a 10-year, $252 million contract with the Texas Rangers in 2001. Rodriguez’s power also spiked after he joined the Rangers, which also coincided with the height of the steroid era in baseball.
From 2001-2005, Rodriguez hit 240 home runs, including hitting more than 50 in both the 2001 and 2002 seasons. Rodriguez would go on to hit 54 home runs in 2007, but never hit more than 35 after that season in New York.
A-Rod would win the American League Most Valuable Player award three times, once in 2003, again in 2005, and a final time in 2007.
Much like Canseco, A-Rod’s career began to tail off as he hit his late-30’s. A-Rod played in only 99 games at the age of 35 and hit 16 home runs and drove in 62 runs while hitting just .276. Rodriguez bottomed out the next season hitting just .272 and hitting 18 home runs and driving in 57 runs in 122 games in 2012.
For comparison purposes, when Canseco was 35, he hit 15 home runs and drove in 49 runs while hitting .252 in 98 games. At the age of 36, Canseco was in his final season and played in 76 games and hit 16 home runs and driving in 49 runs as a member of the Chicago White Sox.
Canseco and A-Rod were at one time both considered the best player in the game and were beloved in South Florida and across the country. But after both decided to go down the path of performance-enhancing drugs, neither may have a salvageable reputation in the world of baseball or in South Florida.