Not like the old days

BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:31 AM ET

Tim Harkness learned the game of baseball from his grandfather, Bill.

"My grandfather from Ireland studied all the sports when he came over," Harkness said. "He thought baseball was the most demanding sport to play. He grew up with soccer but said baseball was the greatest, because of the split-second timing required.

"He said it took the eyes of an eagle, the heart of a lion and the reflexes of a cat to play."

And now Harkness reads about BALCO and about steroid use -- admitted and alleged -- and the ex-major leaguer shakes his head.

"This is all greed, to raise stats," Harkness said. "This is a slap in the face to Ted Williams who missed five years and still hit over 500 homers. This is a slap in the face to Willie Mays. I played against Mays and Barry Bonds is no Willie Mays."

Harkness remembers going to spring training with the 1957 Brookyn Dodgers.

"I was 6-foot-1 and a half and weighed 187 pounds," Harkness said. "Every one of those Dodgers who walked by me -- Carl Furillo, Gil Hodges, Duke Snider, Andy Pafko, Frank Howard -- made me feel like a midget.

"Those guys never lifted any weights. They lifted beer bottles."

Harkness played in 1961 and '62 with the Dodgers and then was with the New York Mets from 1963-64.

"I was fortunate enough to play against Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, Roberto Clemente and Don Newcombe. They never needed any help," Harkness said. "In our day, we did not see opposite-field homers.

"This hurts the game of baseball."

Harkness scouted for the San Diego Padres and was manager of the Intercounty Maple Leafs.

"The thing that bothers me is that some guys have busted their end, lifted weights and improved and now they are being slighted," he said. "Taking steroids is like playing Russian roulette with your body."

Bonds' single-season home run record of 73 isn't going anywhere from the record books though, despite his "confidential" testimony to a San Francisco grand jury that he did not knowingly take any performance-enhancing drugs. He hit the home runs and they will stay on the books until baseball does something to improve drug testing.

But that won't happen without the approval of the Players Association.

HELP AT THIRD

Free-agent third baseman Corey Koskie has heard from the Jays about employment for the 2005 season. If the Anola, Man., native can be signed, the Jays would move Eric Hinske to first base should free agent Carlos Delgado not be re-signed.

"They've expressed interest," Koskie said. "I have family from home phoning me all the time, asking what's going to happen. Are you going to play for Toronto?

"We'll just have to wait and see what happens. We'll know more after Tuesday."

Koskie is a type-A free agent and has to be offered arbitration by midnight Tuesday for the Minnesota Twins to collect any draft picks if he lands elsewhere.

Besides Toronto, the Seattle Mariners, Milwaukee Brewers and the Twins are in the hunt for Koskie.

HIPPITY HOP

Kitchener's Tommy McKenzie, who played shortstop for Team Canada from 1967-79 and the Kitchener Panthers is out of the hospital after a hip replacement surgery.


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