Can you tell which is which?
That would be Jose’s twin brother, Ozzie.
Ozzie hasn’t been heard from since he and Jose played for/managed the Yuma Scorpions together. Here they are, getting ejected in tandem from one of those games.
Prior to that, Ozzie made the news when he swapped in for Jose during a bizarre boxing incident. The unsuccessful switcheroo provided a strange coda to their history of extracurricular activities, which includes tag-teaming nightclub patrons and impersonating each other on television. Since the end of the Cansecos’ stint with Yuma, Ozzie has stayed out of the public eye, preferring to live in anonymity — pretty much the opposite of his brother. His only current presence online seems to be through his incredibly animated website, ilovebaseball.info, advertising his Future Stars Baseball & Softball camps.
Ozzie’s baseball career has taken a much different path than Jose’s as well. His Wikipedia page still says that he’s the “Pitching & Hitting Coach” for the Yuma Scorpions, but that’s incorrect: the Yuma Scorpions no longer exist. At the end of the 2011 season, they left the North American League and changed their name to the Yuma Panthers; then, having joined the American West Baseball League — which is owned by the same holding company, Godfather Media, that owns the team — they canceled the 2012 season due to the “unstability” of the league. Prior to his brief time in Yuma, Ozzie was selected as a pitcher in the second round of the 1983 MLB draft and made his major-league debut in 1990 with the Oakland A’s. He would play only 24 games total in the MLB, compared with the 1887 games, 1877 hits, and 462 home runs of his brother. In between MLB appearances, Ozzie played for the Kintetsu Buffaloes in Japan, and he has also appeared in plenty of AAA and miscellaneous minor-league ball.
I spoke with Ozzie on the phone earlier today. He seemed thoughtful, intelligent, and happy to remain the lesser-known Canseco brother.
What are you up to these days?
I’ve been working with baseball players for almost 30 years now, and I offer baseball lessons for every aspect of the game. I work with kids.
How was the stint in Yuma?
It was an independent league, and I was there for approximately 4 months coaching alongside my brother.
Have you had any more substantial coaching jobs since Yuma ended?
Not really. I tried to play one or two games for Yuma, but old injuries from the past kept coming back.
What do you think of your brother’s Twitter?
My opinion is that many years ago, the media took it upon themselves to paint my brother in a very negative light. He was very outspoken, and the fact that he talked about racism and the unfairness of the game, which has always been there — because of this, there was allowed to be an open season because he was outspoken. Some players are protected from the media, and some aren’t, and he was not. As correct as he was, and as truthful as he was, when he wrote the book on steroids and told the absolute truth — we live in a time where the truth is taboo. So it was definitely open season on Jose. And that led to everything that’s happening now. He’s just trying to survive like the rest of us. He’s trying to play the cards that he’s been dealt to the best of his abilities.
A lot of people think he’s crazy. Is he crazy, or is this all part of a plan?
Yes, it’s part of a plan. 100%. If you’re in the game, the game of life, and you’re dealt certain cards, you work with those cards and bluff with those cards to do the best that you can. It’s that simple. He knows that he was dealt the wrong hand. He was colluded against by major league baseball, thrown out of the game. The MLB owes him 25 million dollars. So now you try and do the best that you can with what you got.
Why does Major League Baseball owe him 25 million dollars?
The fact that many organizations colluded against him and wouldn’t give him a job when he was healthy and could’ve played. He could’ve easily produced 30-40 home runs a year and 100 RBIs. He even offered to play for free or put together a contract based solely on incentives, minimum salary to no salary, and no one would even touch it. To me it would’ve been a no-brainer for any organization. That was pretty obvious. In my opinion, it was very obvious that there was collusion. This was probably around the mid-90s, toward the end of his career.
Why have you been keeping such a low profile?
I have nothing to gain. Jose has things to gain because he has a name, and he’s not famous, he’s infamous. He’s trying to use his infamousness — I don’t know if I just made up a word there; the fact that he’s infamous — to the best of his advantage. I prefer to stay out of it as best as possible. I try, anyway. And by speaking with you now I’m kind of breaking that rule, but sometimes you have to say what’s on your mind. I don’t think you should be quiet forever.
What happened with that boxing match where you switched places with Jose? Was that planned? Did you know you were going to do that?
I never spoke about that for a reason, because there’s a lot of misunderstanding about that. I’d rather not talk about that.
Are you and your brother close?
I’d rather not talk about that.
What did you learn from playing overseas? Did you like it?
Baseball’s very similar, they’re very detail-oriented when it comes to the game of baseball, very technically sound. What I enjoyed the most is their society is based on respect and honor and hard work. Unfortunately here in the states it’s the opposite, my personal opinion.
Do you ever feel like you didn’t get a fair a shake in the Major Leagues?
Absolutely. A lot of people had that view of my situation, always thought that I never got a legit opportunity to get rooted in the big leagues. I was never told for sure why. To this day I’d like to know why. I can remember vividly as if it was yesterday when I was in big league camp with the Cardinals in 1993. Joe Torre was the maanger there, I was leading the club in RBIs and homers as a pinch hitter, as a part-time player. The last week of spring training I was benched, and I remember as if it was yesterday, I stepped into Joe Torre’s office and said, “Mr. Torre, I’m not playing and I feel as though I’ve been producing more than anybody on the squad, leading the team in home runs and RBIs, and I’ve been on the bench for 3 or four days now. What did I do wrong, did I disrespect anybody, did I step on anybody’s toes?” He didn’t have an answer for me. After that I was sent back down to Triple A. so I definitely felt that I should’ve been given a little more of an opportunity.