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Murphy not thrilled by Bonds' chase

If former Braves great Dale Murphy has one regret from his prolific career, it's that he didn't speak up while the steroid era,

By EDUARDO A. ENCINA
Published March 14, 2007


ST. PETERSBURG - If former Braves great Dale Murphy has one regret from his prolific career, it's that he didn't speak up while the steroid era, which now hangs over the game like a dark cloud, began around him.

Now a vocal denouncer of steroid use, Murphy - in town for his induction into the Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame Tuesday evening at Tropicana Field - still takes pride in the game. But he won't share excitement in one anticipated landmark, saying that Barry Bonds' current chase of Hank Aaron's all-time home run record would be a tarnished mark.

"I think Barry's career will be very, 'Yeah he was a very great player, but ...' " Murphy said. "It doesn't look like it's all natural, so him breaking Hank's record just isn't that exciting to me. I just flat out feel that way. Barry would have been a Hall of Famer regardless of whether he got involved with this stuff, so to see him break the record, I'm ... indifferent."

Murphy, a two-time NL MVP with 398 homers, created the I Won't Cheat Foundation, which aims to educate young athletes on the dangers of steroids, human growth hormone and methamphetamines. He said each player has a responsibility to the integrity of the game, Bonds included.

"Barry had a choice," Murphy said. "I can say, hey we turned our head the other way, but the guy still had a choice. It's the wrong choice. It really doesn't matter what your motivation is. It's illegal. They say they don't test for it. They don't test for a lot of things. It's still the wrong thing to do."

Murphy said the only solution for the majors is to treat drug offenders as severely as gambling offenders, with a zero tolerance policy and a lifetime ban.

Former Devil Rays first baseman and Tampa native Fred McGriff was also inducted.