On May 13, 2002, Canseco announced his retirement. His agent, Alan Nero, issued a statement that explained Canseco was quitting the Charlotte Knights, a farm team in the Chicago White Sox organization, for personal reasons, including a desire to spend more time with his five-year-old daughter, Josie, from his second marriage in 1996. (The union with Jessica Seikaly, a former waitress at a Hooters restaurant, had also ended in divorce.)
Canseco's 462 home-run total stood, 38 short of his oft-stated career goal. In an ESPN Radio interview, he claimed to have been blackballed by the major-league team owners, and hinted that he would expose baseball's seamier side in a tell-all autobiography. A Miami Herald writer, Greg Herald, asserted that Canseco should exit the game more gracefully. "Get out with a little class," Herald urged. "Retire right. Instead, inadvertently, Canseco is giving a public seminar on how not to make that ego-defying leap from star to ex/former/used-to-be."
Few sports pundits believed that Canseco would, in the end, be admitted to the Hall of Fame, despite his impressive 40-40 first. Gary Peterson, summarizing Canseco's early promise and tragic decline in a Contra Costa Times article published by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, recalled that Canseco "arrived in the major leagues at the speed of sound.… He wasn't the architect of the A's revival, but he did a lot of the heavy lifting." Peterson noted that it was at the start of the 1990s that the gifted player, who "seemed to have an intuitive feel for the game," began to lose his focus. "Ten years ago Canseco seemed on the fast track to Cooperstown," Peterson wrote. "Five years ago you could incite a spirited debate by questioning his candidacy for the Hall of Fame. Now? It's not even a discussion."