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After major leagues, its time for political hardball

Dale Murphy has made a lot of friends in a lifetime that includes 18 seasons in the major leagues. But is he ready to make some enemies?

The former Wilson High and Atlanta Braves great might throw his hat into the political ring. Murphy, 47, is considering a run for governor of Utah in 2004 if three-term incumbent Mike Leavitt, a Republican, doesn't seek re-election.

Murphy has never held political office. He and his wife, Nancy, and their eight children have lived in Alpine, Utah, since his retirement from baseball in 1993 Ñ except for the three-plus years (1997-2000) he spent as president of the Boston Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, supervising 180 missionaries throughout New England.

Murphy is being encouraged by several people close to the Utah political scene to run as a Republican if there is an open seat.

'I have been talking to people who are connected in some way to the political climate in Utah,' Murphy tells the Tribune. 'It would be a big step, because obviously I would be a newcomer and an outsider to all of it. But my family is very much supportive, and it's a good time in my family life to try something like this.

'The overwhelming reason I would want to get involved is I feel like I could make the state an even better place to live.'

Murphy expects Leavitt to make a decision about his future sometime this summer. The two-time National League MVP spends much of his time helping coach three of his children's youth teams in Alpine Ñ the kids range in age from 9 to 23. All eight are still living with their parents.

Dale's parents, Charles and Betty Murphy, still live in Portland. Dale and his family have been back to the state twice in the last year Ñ once to visit Cannon Beach, once so Dale and his father could golf at Pacific Dunes in Bandon.

'Can't wait to get back there,' Murphy says of the famed course on the Oregon coast. 'I always enjoy getting back to Oregon, period. I have a lot of tremendous memories and still have some good friends there.'

• Sounds like Portland's bid for the 2006 NBA All-Star Game isn't being taken all that seriously by league officials. NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik was quoted this week as being impressed with Denver's candidacy for the 2005 Game. The Rocky Mountain News report named Houston and New Orleans as the cities believed to be the other two candidates, though New Orleans would prefer to host the 2006 event. The 2005 site will be announced during this year's playoffs, and Granik said the league might name the 2006 winner at the same time.

Blazer executive Erin Hubert says she hasn't heard anything from league officials about Portland's bid. That can't be a good sign.

The NBA owes Portland one. The city was awarded an All-Star Game in the early '80s, but the league opted to go only to major cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. When the league policy changed back to moving the game around, Portland got left out. Thirty-three years after the franchise began, it still hasn't played host to an All-Star Game. That's just not right Ñ and don't let the league's phony excuse of not enough hotel rooms fool you. With all the major downtown hotels that have sprouted up in recent years, that can't be the case anymore.

• The Blazers' second-round draft pick last June, Federico Kammerichs of Argentina, tells HoopsHype.com he has been asked by the team to attend summer league next year but doesn't feel he is ready for the NBA.

The 6-9, 225-pound small forward, who turns 23 in June, says if the Argentine national squad asks him to play in summer competition, that would get priority over the Blazers. Kammerichs is playing for Pamesa Valencia in Spain this season.

• Remember when the hot subject on the pro sports scene in Portland wasn't baseball, but hockey? Well, at least it is a buyer's market these days. The New York Post reports that as many as 10 NHL teams are for sale. Analyst John Mansell calls the number of teams for sale 'unprecedented.' With so many teams claiming to be losing money, the next collective-bargaining session will be an important one for the future of pro hockey, that's for sure.

• Tonya Harding's next pro bout is May 9 at Osceola, Iowa. The opponent is unnamed as yet, but that's not important, says her trainer, Jeff Hargis.

'We don't worry too much about the opponent at this level, because they are all pretty much novice,' Hargis says.

Harding, 32, is 2-1, winning her last two after losing her pro debut. She has been in Vancouver since her last fight but returns to Nashville this week to begin training again with Hargis.

• Former Duck Tony Graziani already has broken his own franchise passing records for the Arena League Los Angeles Avengers Ñ with seven games left on the schedule. The lefty QB has thrown for 3,043 yards and 69 TDs in 11 games.

• Last week's Police Activities League auction at the Multnomah Athletic Club raised more than $100,000 for Portland area youth sports programs. Co-chairmen Clyde Drexler and Terry Emmert, who have agreed to work next year's auction, vow to double this year's total.

• Oregon State coach Mike Riley says he is unsure whether he will discipline running back Steven Jackson, who was cited last week for misrepresentation of age at a Corvallis tavern. Jackson allegedly tried to use a friend's driver's license to enter the premises.

'I have to find out more about it, what went on and how it fits together,' Riley says. 'We'll see what happens.'

Star of the first OSU scrimmage was receiver Josh Hawkins, a redshirt last season who snared four passes Saturday for 122 yards and a touchdown.

'I like his attitude,' says Riley, who figures Hawkins a contender for the Beavers' third receiver job, behind James Newson and Kenny Farley. 'Great kid, works hard, and he makes some plays. He went up and got the ball a couple of times.'

Contact Kerry Eggers at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .