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DiMaggio Lawyer: Park Furor Remains

April 14, 2000

The battle over naming a San Francisco park for Joe DiMaggio is not over yet, the executor of DiMaggio’s estate said Friday.

Morris Engelberg, who failed in his effort to keep the city from naming the North Beach area park for the late New York Yankees Hall of Famer, said he would seek outside legal advice before deciding on his next move.

Engelberg, DiMaggio’s lawyer for 16 years, said his expertise is probate and tax-oriented law.

``The real legal problem in this area is how other athletes and celebrities can be affected if municipalities keep naming public facilities after them,″ Engelberg said from his office in Hollywood, Fla. ``Just picture a municipality naming a garbage dump after Dennis Rodman.″

Engelberg said the naming of the park in North Beach, about a block from where DiMaggio and his brothers played, was politically motivated.

He said Mayor Willie Brown and Supervisor Gavin Newsom ``are using this as a political ploy in an election year, making them the heros and making me the villain.″

A spokesman for the mayor said Engelberg is uninformed.

``The mayor is not in an election year,″ Ron Vinson said. ``The mayor is doing the will of the city and our efforts to honor the great baseball player.″

Vinson said Friday the mayor’s office is prepared to defend the decision to name the North Beach playground after DiMaggio.

A message left for Newsom was not immediately returned.

Engelberg said it was being unfairly portrayed as demanding the city name a bridge or the airport for DiMaggio.

``I never requested anything.″ Engelberg said. ``Newsom presented 10 items on a menu from which to select. Of course, I selected the airport or bridge, wouldn’t you, over a concrete park.″

Engelberg said DiMaggio never would have agreed to have the park named for him.

``They waited for him to die and then proceeded knowing that the only person between them and the naming was a Hollywood attorney.″

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