Oakland A’s history: Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire ahead of their time

With handshakes and human contact being verboten these days, it turns out that a pair of Oakland A’s sluggers were ahead of their time.

It was a great time to be a fan of the Oakland A’s in the late 1980s and into the ’90s. Bob Welch and Dave Stewart fronted a formidable rotation, with Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley locking down the ninth inning. The lineup was equally fearsome, with the Bash Brothers – Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire – striking fear into the hearts of the opposition.

As Canseco and McGwire became household names, their unique way of celebrating found its way amongst baseball fans. Their forearm bash, a different way of celebrating their home runs, became a staple in sandlot baseball games. The Bash Brothers, named for both their tremendous home runs and their celebrations, were born.

As the years passed, the forearm bash was forgotten. Canseco had left Oakland and had become a parody of himself, infamously having a fly ball bounce off his head for a home run and blowing out his arm pitching. McGwire, on the other hand, became the beloved Big Mac in St. Louis, breaking Roger Maris‘ home run record in a chase that captivated the nation.

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These days, both players live in infamy. Canseco became the W. Mark Felt of baseball, exposing the Steroid Era in all its glory. McGwire, who had been named by Canseco as a PED user, steadfastly denied those allegations before finally admitting what everyone knew – he had, in fact, used steroids.

However, these days, Canseco and McGwire may rise to be heroes once more. Due to the coronavirus, people are avoiding handshakes and looking for alternate ways of greeting one another. Enter the forearm bash.

Not only does this greeting keep the part of the body most likely to be carrying the virus away from others, it practically minimizes any chances of exposure. Fist bumps? A high five? Neither of them has the safety, or the nostalgic elegance, of the forearm bash.

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Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire were true visionaries. The Oakland A’s sluggers created the perfect greeting for these times over 30 years ago.

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