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On This Date in Sports: September 23, 1988: 40/40

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

 

Jose Canseco of the Oakland Athletics hits a home run and steals a pair of bases to become the first member of the 40-40 club. Canseco helps lead the A’s to a 9-8 win over the Milwaukee Brewers at County Stadium. Jose Canseco would finish the season with 42 homes and 40 stolen bases, earning the American League MVP as the Athletics reach the World Series for the first time in 14 years.

 

Jose Canseco was born on July 2, 1964, along with his twin brother Ozzie, who briefly played in the majors but never used steroids. His father was an oil and gasoline manager that lost his job when Fidel Castro assumed power in Cuba. Canseco was allowed to leave the island nation in 1965 and settled in Miami with his twin sons. 

 Jose Canseco was drafted in the 15th round of the 1982 draft by the Oakland Athletics. His brother Ozzie was selected a year later by the New York Yankees. While Ozzie toiled, Jose Canseco found the magic formula and injected it and became a hulking slugger. Jose Canseco made his debut with Oakland as a September call-up in 1985 and hit five home runs in 29 games. He was named Minor League Player of the Year by Baseball America and was considered the top prospect in the game. Canseco did not disappoint, hitting 33 home runs with 117 RBI in 1986 as he was named Rookie of the Year.  While Jose Canseco was named Rookie of the Year in 1986, Mark McGwire followed it up with a rookie record 49 home runs in 1987, as two sluggers were dubbed the “Bash Brothers.” 

 

There had been several 30-30 seasons, but no player had ever had a 40-40 season. Ken Williams, with the St. Louis Browns in 1922, was the first to flirt with joining the 40-40 club when he hit 39 home runs with 37 stolen bases. In 1956 Willie Mays of the New York Giants reached 40 stolen bases while hitting 36 home runs. Bobby Bonds of the San Francisco Giants came the closest to becoming the first 40-40 player in 1973 when he stole 43 bases and had 39 home runs. In 1987 Eric Davis of the Cincinnati Reds had 50 steals and 37 homers. 

 

During Spring Training, Joe Canseco boldly predicted he would reach 40-40, despite stealing just 15 bases in his first two full seasons. There was a buzz surrounding the Oakland Athletics in 1988 as they were the hot team to watch at the start of the season. Jose Canseco was juiced up for the beginning of the season as he had eight home runs and eight steals as the A’s raced to the top of the American League West. May saw Canseco hit just four home runs, but with nine stole bases set a new career-high at 17. In June, Jose Canseco slammed eight home runs and was at 20-20 with an additional four stolen bases. The rest of the baseball world began to notice Jose Canseco’s pursuit of 40-40 in July when he hit ten home runs. As August began, Canseco had 30 home runs and 27 stolen bases. Through the dog days of August, Jose Canseco’s home pace slowed as he had four while stealing seven bases. 

Sitting with 34 home runs and 34 stolen bases as September began, Canseco reached 40 home runs on September 18th as the Athletics beat the Royals 3-2. Five days later, with 40 home runs and 38 stolen bases, Jose Canseco had a first-inning single against Juan Nieves of the Milwaukee Brewers and promptly stole second base. In the fifth inning, history was made when Jose Canseco reached on a bunt single and stole his 40th base. Jose Canseco would later hit his 41st home run as the Athletics beat the Brewers 9-8 in 14 innings. The Brewers had forced extra inning by scoring five runs in the ninth to tie the game. 

 

Jose Canseco would add one more home run to finish with 42 home runs ad 40 stolen bases. Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants would match Jose Canseco’s 42 home runs and 40 steals in 1996. Two years later, Alex Rodriguez of the Seattle Mariners had 42 homers and 46 stolen bases, while Alfonso Soriano had 46 home runs and 41 stolen bases in 2006 with the Washington Nationals.