Fingerless Canseco Gives Comic Relief Amid Scandals

Jose Canseco signs an autograph for a young fan at Arnold Field.   James Toy III/Sonoma Stompers

Jose Canseco signs an autograph for a young fan at Arnold Field.

James Toy III/Sonoma Stompers

Originally Published: Bloomberg Sports

Rob Gloster and Erik Matuszewski, Bloomberg Sports

Just when sports is stuck in a morass of soccer scandals and deflated footballs, along comes the latter-day clown prince of baseball to provide comic relief.

Jose Canseco, who hit 462 home runs and wrote a book about how steroids helped him do it, will attempt to play all nine positions on the field during a two-day stint with the Sonoma Stompers this weekend. The Stompers will celebrate by passing out foam hands to fans minus half the middle finger -- the former slugger accidentally shot it off last year.

Canseco, 50, was cleaning his gun last October when it discharged and took off a piece of the middle finger on his left hand. The missing digit was re-attached in surgery, but two weeks later comedian Canseco Tweeted that it fell off during a poker tournament. “I put my finger in the freezer anyone want finger appetizers?”

Just kidding, he said later.

Canseco was a six-time All-Star and the 1988 American League Most Valuable Player during a 17-year MLB career that started with the Oakland Athletics and included a 2000 stint with the New York Yankees. He and fellow performance-enhancing drug user Mark McGwire were Oakland’s Bash Brothers, and combined for 346 home runs in the five seasons from 1987 to 1991. Canseco’s 2005 book detailed his steroid use in baseball; McGwire later admitted using them.

Since his retirement, Canseco has tried boxing and mixed martial arts as well as hanging around the periphery of professional baseball. He will participate in a home-run derby before Saturday’s game against four Stompers players and two fans. It’s not exactly the double-jointed rubbery-faced skits of Max Patkin, the most recent Clown Prince of Baseball who appeared in “Bull Durham” and died in 1999, but it has humor potential.

Canseco will be helping the Stompers fill their park, said general manager Theo Fightmaster. The team averages about 300 fans a game, and Fightmaster told Sports Line the club has sold all its reserved seats for both nights of Canseco Weekend -- Arnold Field has about 300 grandstand spots, half of which are premium seats, and 1,000 in the outfield bleachers that cost $4 apiece.

“Not just the ticket sales, but every person in the ballpark comes, buys food, beer and maybe a hat or a T-shirt,” Fightmaster said in an e-mail. “To put it in perspective, this weekend we’ll gross about 2-3 times what we did on an average night last season.”