Canseco to sign autographs, battle fans in home run derby in Hoopeston

Between them, Mark McGwire, left, and Jose Canseco smacked 1,045 home runs. But steroids accusations — and eventual confessions — have kept both out of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

One of baseball’s most colorful and controversial characters of yesteryear is coming to Vermilion County on May 11.

Jose Canseco, who teamed up with Mark McGwire to form Oakland’s famed “Bash Brothers” in the 1980s and early ‘90s, will visit Hoopeston’s Bricks & Ivy Sports memorabilia shop, where he’ll sign autographs after showing off his power-hitting prowess across town.

At 10:30 a.m. that day at Hoopeston’s McFerrin Park, event organizers say, Canseco will challenge three fans chosen by Bricks & Ivy owners Emily and Bob Brown to a home run contest.

In a Tuesday announcement from the Browns, Canseco is quoted as saying: “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I will face anyone at any time in a Home Run Derby, and they won’t beat me. I cannot wait to show central Illinois how many home runs I can hit over 500 feet long.

“I look forward to proving this once again in Hoopeston. If you’re up to the challenge, I expect to see you on May 11.”

A six-time All-Star, Canseco hit 462 home runs in 17 major league seasons, 37th-most in major league history and more than Hall of Famers Andre Dawson, Cal Ripken and Johnny Bench. But his career was tarnished by steroid use, which he later admitted to in the tell-all book “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big.”

Canseco will sign autographs between 12:30 and 2 p.m. May 11. A ticket for one autograph costs $29.99.