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Pitcher Jack Morris throws high heat at steroid abusers



Published: Thu, August 11, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



He said he does not want to be in the Hall of Fame with "cheaters."

KNIGHT-RIDDER NEWSPAPERS

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Make no mistake, Jack Morris wants to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

He has worked hard in recent years to change Hall voters' perception of him.

But the St. Paul native said a day could come when he no longer cares to be honored in Cooperstown.

If even one Steroid Era-tarnished player is elected, Morris said you can erase his name from the ballot.

"I don't want to be in," said Morris, the most-winning pitcher of the 1980s. "That's a bold statement, and a lot of people are going to say, 'Well, how dare him even say that.' I don't care. It's my life. I can say what I feel, and I don't believe in cheating."

Morris is interested in seeing what will happen to sluggers who have faced steroid allegations -- such as Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro -- once they are eligible for the Hall of Fame ballot.

"They're all cheaters in my opinion," Morris said.

Watching and waiting

He is particularly interested to see what will happen to Palmeiro, who last week became the highest-profile player to be suspended for violating baseball's steroid policy.

Morris wonders how Palmeiro's alleged sins will compare to those attributed to him. He believes he has not been voted to the Hall of Fame, in part, because of his strained relationships with writers during his 18 big-league seasons with four teams, mostly with the Detroit Tigers.

Hall of Fame voters are members of the Baseball Writers Association of America who have at least 10 years of membership.

Morris said Palmeiro, who denied using steroids during a congressional hearing in March and last week denied intentionally using steroids, is a "liar."

"I think he's lost all credibility, and one of the credentials for the Hall of Fame is integrity, credibility and character," Morris said. "You tell me what that says about Rafael. ... I played the game with my heart. I focused on winning. That's all that I cared about. I didn't care whether I got you a good story or not."

Regrets

Morris, 50, regrets being surly with writers. He has made peace in recent years with most members of the Detroit chapter of the BBWAA.

Never one to seek attention, Morris was in the national spotlight this summer because of an All-Star Game promotion he did for Ameriquest Mortgage Co. A fan won a contest to sit with Morris and Cal Ripken Jr. during the game. Morris believes he was asked to be part of the promotion because the game was at Comerica Park in Detroit.

Morris traveled to a half-dozen cities to promote the contest, and he did hundreds of interviews, mostly on radio. He said he did not take on the project to promote himself for the Hall of Fame.

"I don't care if I ever made it," said Morris, adding he does not intend to be in the national spotlight again any time soon. "I would never do that."

Morris has been subtler in going about rebuilding broken relationships. He said he has matured, and attributes some of the change to having a 7-month-old son, Miles.

"I think I've pretty much mended all of the broken bridges between the writers in Detroit," said Morris, who spent 14 seasons with the Tigers. "I've talked to almost every one of them.

"I've tried to explain that I recognize that I did some things wrong. I would hate to think I'm not in the Hall of Fame because of something I said to a writer 15 or 20 years ago. I don't think that's really the case, although there are a few writers in Detroit who told me that is the case."




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