NEW YORK – Jose Canseco plans to file a class-action lawsuit against Major League Baseball and the players’ association, saying he’s been ostracized for going public with tales of steroids use in the sport.
Canseco said Wednesday that he has discussed the suit with lawyers and intends to enlist Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro to join in the suit.
Canseco said the basis of the suit would be “lost wages—in some cases, defamation of character.”
“Because I used steroids and I came out with a book, I was kicked out of the game, but I have not been inducted into the Hall of Fame,” Canseco said in a telephone interview.
“A lot of these players have not been inducted into the Hall of Fame: Mark McGwire and so forth. They’re losing salaries, because obviously when you’re inducted into the Hall of Fame, you get asked to do certain, you know, appearances and shows and so forth, which incorporate income. So there is a major income loss.
The 1986 AL Rookie of the Year and 1988 AL MVP, Canseco hit 462 home runs from 1985-2001 and currently is 32nd on the career list. In books published in 2005 and last year, he detailed steroids use by himself and others.
Whether a judge would think Canseco has a case—and would even allow it to go to a jury—remains to be seen.
He appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2007 and received just six votes, 21 below the amount necessary to remain in the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot in future years. McGwire, eighth on the career list with 583 homers, received 118 Hall of Fame votes this year, which came to 21.9 percent. That’s well below the 75 percent threshold needed for election and down from 128 votes in each of his first two appearances on the ballot.
“Always, one individual has to make that stand, which is me,” Canseco said. “And then I’ll obviously speak to other players and other individuals, see how far they want to go.”
Rob Manfred, MLB’s executive vice president for labor relations, declined comment. Michael Weiner, the union’s general counsel, did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
Canseco said players shouldn’t be stigmatized for using steroids before players and owners agreed to ban them in 2002.
“I don’t see why people just don’t get it. I don’t understand the ignorance,” he said. “Listen: It was allowed by Major League Baseball. It was endorsed by Major League Baseball. Why should the players be now reprimanded?”
He wasn’t surprised by a report Tuesday by The New York Times that Sammy Sosa was among 104 players who tested positive in baseball’s anonymous 2003 survey. The paper cited lawyers with knowledge of the 2003 drug-testing results who spoke on condition of anonymity because they did not want to publicly discuss material under court seal.
“Like I’ve said all along, in my era 80 percent of the players were using steroids and why would Sammy Sosa be excluded from that?” Canseco said. “I think people are going to be amazed how, you know, extensive that list is that Major League Baseball is holding back right now and who are on it.”
Canseco said the list should remain private because players were promised anonymity, but he predicted the remaining names eventually will trickle out and become public.