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Published: Friday, 7/13/2007

Ex-major leaguer Palmer in Toledo to push cholesterol awareness

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Jim Palmer admits that he is a perfectionist.

But that focus on flawless execution lifted him to 268 career victories, six appearances in the All-Star Game, and election to baseball's Hall of Fame in 1990.

So it's natural that the former Baltimore Orioles star uses the same critical gaze when observing the game he loves.

"I'm a perfectionist, so maybe I see more warts than other people," he said. "But overall the health of the game is good. We've been getting different champions every year, so maybe that tells us that things are going well.

"Is it perfect? No. Do we need to test for growth hormones? Yes. Will that happen? No, not unless Congress gets involved."

Palmer, 61, a television analyst for the Orioles, said recently set records - such as Barry Bonds' pursuit of Hank Aaron's career home run mark of 755 - are tainted by the stigma of the steroid era.

"If I hear one more player mention Barry Bonds never tested positive [I will scream] because they weren't testing when he hit 73 home runs," Palmer said. "What goes around comes around. Barry can be very pleasant, but he can be very rude and short.

"Anyone who really knows the game knows it's not on the up and up. I don't need any proof. I don't think anyone who knows the game does."

Palmer said the current uproar regarding Bud Selig's presence at Bonds' potential record-setting homer may prove interesting to outside observers.

"Unless he has knowledge that the rest of us don't - and I assume he does, because he's the commissioner - maybe [his not being there] will be his message," Palmer said. "Otherwise I think he needs to be there."

Oriole fans may be surprised to know that Palmer's love for the game began while growing up in New York - and following the Yankees.

"I went to Yankee Stadium for the first time on a rainy night when I was nine," Palmer said.

At the age of 19 Palmer made another appearance at Yankee Stadium, but under far different circumstances.

"I came on in relief in a Labor Day doubleheader after our pitcher got hit with a line drive," Palmer said. "Horace Clarke loaded the bases on an infield hit, and I struck out [Mickey] Mantle, [Roger] Maris, and Elston Howard - 10 years after I walked into Yankee Stadium for the first time.

"Who would have thought that, 10 years after going to Yankee Stadium and dreaming you would be a Yankee, you'd be wearing a different uniform and facing the Yankees. Maybe that's why I beat the Yankees 30 times in my career."

Palmer said he doesn't have a long laundry list of concerns he hopes baseball will address.

"I just want the integrity of the game maintained," he said. "We all know that growth hormones help you, so I have to think that you have to test you for those things.

Palmer was at Fifth Third Field yesterday as part of a tour of 10 minor-league cities to increase awareness regarding high cholesterol.

"The program is called, "Strike Out High Cholesterol,'" Palmer said. "When I made a visit to my doctor about 10 years ago, he told me I had high cholesterol.

"I tried to control it with diet but didn't have much success, so I told my doctor, 'This is getting frustrating.

"You can eat healthy, exercise and do all the things that I was doing, and you'll still have high cholesterol, my doctor told me."



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