Steve Garvey, the 17-year veteran first baseman who finished out his fifth season with the San Diego Padres on the disabled list, announced his retirement from major league baseball yesterday in La Jolla, Calif.

Garvey, 39, who filed for free agency in November, said he decided to retire because of a shoulder injury that required major reconstructive surgery.

"In 20 years, dreams have come true," Garvey said of his career. "It's been an opportunity to take successes on the field and work off the field to help people positively. We as athletes truly have the opportunity to help others. I thank God for the strength to be in professional athletics."

Garvey, who played for the Dodgers for 12 seasons, was paid $1.45 million last season, the final one of a five-year contract with the Padres. He was on the disabled list since May 30 with a torn biceps tendon near his left shoulder . . .

The submission of a Baseball Hall of Fame record nine blank ballots and formidable competition from candidates in upcoming elections diminish Jim Bunning's chances of enshrinement at Cooperstown, N.Y.

Bunning, a former right-handed, side-armed hurler whose 224 victories included a no-hitter in each league, fell only four votes shy of induction Tuesday in his 12th year of voting eligibility. Bunning, with three years of eligibility remaining, next year will face strong competition from first-time applicants Carl Yastrzemski and Johnny Bench.

"I thought I had a shot," Bunning said. "I think I was right the first time: if you don't make it right away, you should take your name off the ballot so you won't have to go through this every year."

Bunning, now a U.S. Representative from Kentucky, pitched for the Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies, Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates during a 17-year career. He won 100 games in both leagues.

A player must be selected on at least 75 percent of ballots submitted by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America; Bunning earned 74.2 percent of the vote.

"I think there are an awful lot of guys who would be in the Hall of Fame if it was up to me," said this year's lone inductee and Bunning's former Pirates teammate, Willie Stargell. "Unfortunately, not everyone can be here."

Stargell said he has another goal: to manage in the major leagues. "I want to do it very much," he said . . .

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Dennis Rasmussen more than doubled his salary when he signed a one-year contract for next season for $457,500.

The left-hander, who would have been eligible for arbitration, was paid $175,000 last season. He was acquired from the New York Yankees last Aug. 26 for right-hander Bill Gullickson, who rejected an offer from the Yankees and signed with the Yomiuri Giants of Japan's Central League.