By Jay Posner
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
May 8, 2006
Reggie Jackson doesn't know if Barry Bonds used steroids. But he knows what should happen if it's proved Bonds – or anyone – did.
“They should either asterisk or footnote it in some way,” the former baseball great said yesterday at Petco Park. “I don't know what you do about players that are out of the game, but if there is some kind of conviction, hard evidence, that they find is real, then there should be adjustments made and careers should be affected.”
That includes membership in the Baseball Hall of Fame, to which Jackson was inducted in 1993.
“I think if people are proven guilty to be involved with steroids, then they probably shouldn't be Hall of Famers,” Jackson said. “But until you can prove that, it's just a bunch of speculation. . . . Because a guy's accused or kind of looks the part, that's not reason enough to assume guilt.
“So I think you need data, you need facts. If you get facts, then you can brand, you can make a decision on what you're going to do.”
Jackson was at Petco on behalf of the annual Aflac All-American High School Baseball Classic, which will be played Aug. 12 at Tony Gwynn Stadium (and which he will serve as honorary chairman). At a pregame news conference, he warned young players – including Francis Parker High shortstop Nick Noonan and Mission Bay High outfielder Sequoyah Stonecipher, who were selected for the game – not to mess with steroids.
He also said he was aware of steroid use in baseball “from the late '80s. I think they got a little too commonplace in the '90s.” Among the factors he noted were more injuries and the bigger physiques of players.
The latter has been one factor cited by those who have accused Bonds of using steroids. But Jackson said, “Until they can prove it, prove the fact that he's taken steroids, I think it's unfair to single Bonds out. . . . While I would be totally against it and offended by somebody that cheated, there is no proof. I think we all need to reserve our finger-pointing until there's absolute conviction that this did happen.”
Still, Jackson admitted the steroid cloud over baseball is disturbing. He hit 563 home runs, putting him sixth all-time when he retired. But in recent years Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro passed him. Steroid rumors have dogged all four, although only Palmeiro tested positive.
“I get angry and want to retort,” he said, “but I want to be careful because I don't want people to say, 'Well, he's just another old guy complaining.' But I went from being sixth all-time in 18 months to 10th. So it bothers me. It doesn't affect my legacy. It doesn't affect Willie Mays' legacy as the greatest player of all time.
“ . . . (But) it's part of America. And we're all part of that. When someone goes by that and it's tainted and there are questions, it's even hurt us with the accusations. So there needs to be a definitive quest to find out if it really happened. Then if it really happened, then to do something about it.”