SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -Dusty Baker and two of Barry Bonds' ex-teammates claim the San Francisco Giants star has been unfairly targeted by the government and media.
Baker, who managed Bonds in San Francisco for 10 years through 2002, gave his support of Bonds' chase for Hank Aaron's home run record during a town hall panel discussion hosted by ESPN.
``To me it will mean a lot because I was with Hank and with Barry both,'' said Baker, who was in the on-deck circle when Aaron hit his record-breaking homer and spent years being mentored by the Hammer. ``It would mean a lot to me because I grew up idolizing Barry's father, Bobby Bonds. ... I held Barry the day he was born.''
Baker said he noticed no signs of Bonds' alleged steroid use while he was managing the Giants. He said even if a manager suspected a player was using performance-enhancing drugs, proving it was another matter.
``How was I supposed to know what a guy was doing when he left that baseball field?'' Baker said.
Former Giants outfielder Ellis Burks and pitcher Kirk Rueter, said they had seen no evidence that proved Bonds used steroids. Both felt their former teammate was the victim of unfair media scrutiny.
Rueter, who pitched for the Giants in the 1990s until his retirement in 2005, discussed Bonds' difficult dealing with reporters.
``The media would love to write bad stuff about him. I saw on a number of occasions everybody wanted to talk to him (after games),'' Rueter said. ``Well, he didn't want to talk every day. I think he got a bad rap because he'd tell them to get lost.''
Bonds faces a possible federal grand jury indictment for perjury related to his testimony that he hadn't knowingly taken performance-enhancing drugs. Burks and Baker criticized the government's handling of the investigation.
``If people have all this information about Barry, why isn't he convicted yet?'' Burks said. ``They've been saying he's done this for so long, and he's still out there playing.''
The California chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People also urged people to support Bonds.
``Barry Bonds is a legend in his own time and we should be celebrating his accomplishments on the baseball field, and not bury his accomplishments under a fire storm of innuendo, exaggerated claims, and pronouncements by individuals trying to save themselves from criminal litigation,'' Alice Huffman, the chapter's president, said in a statement.

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