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Babe's family wants no part of Bonds celebrations

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Barry Bonds is one longball away from tying for second place on the all-time home run list. If and when No. 714 comes, some of Babe Ruth's relatives don't plan to share in the celebration.

"In my heart, it's hard for me," Ruth's granddaughter, Linda Tosetti, said from her home in Durham, Conn. "I like to do things in Babe's name. I just don't want his name mixed up in steroids."

Tosetti and her three sisters are Ruth's four surviving blood grandchildren. Their mother, Dorothy Ruth Pirone, who died in 1989, was Ruth's only biological child.

Tosetti said the family has politely declined invitations from the San Francisco Giants to be on hand when Bonds finally draws even with her granddad.

"They're a great organization and I really wanted to help them out. I said, 'Call me for anything else,'" Tosetti said. "I'm a pretty game gal. I've got a lot of my grandfather in me."

What she knows about the Babe she's had to learn from her older siblings, who delighted in the visits from the large, jovial man.

Ruth died in 1948, six years before Tosetti was born. Her grandmother, Juanita Jennings, never married Ruth and had their daughter when the slugger was married to his first wife, Helen.

Ruth and his wife adopted Dorothy, who didn't learn the identity of her biological mother until she was 59 years old. Dorothy Pirone authored the 1988 book "My Dad, the Babe." Ruth adopted another daughter, Julia, with his second wife, Claire.

The family has seen the Babe's record eclipsed before when the all-time home run king Hank Aaron passed him in 1974. They were fine with that.

"It didn't diminish the feat. My mother always said what a feat [Aaron] did. Records are made to be broken," Tosetti said.

It's the steroids allegations trailing Bonds that are disconcerting to Tosetti. She said drug use sends a disturbing message to youngsters. Her grandfather, she said, enjoyed being a role model for children, even though his hard-drinking, hard-living life is well-documented.

"Look, he did his carousing. But liquor didn't touch his lips when he was with children. That's how his image is for the youth," Tosetti said. "I would hate myself a million times if I shook Mr. Bonds' hand if he did do it. These guys are making adult decisions about their body. It's the kids who think they're bulletproof coming up in high school who don't have that luxury."

Tosetti insists she has no malice toward Bonds, whom she's never met.

"I can't point a finger at Mr. Bonds. That's for people at a higher power to do," she said. "I'm sure he's a nice young man."