Though Mickey Mantle’s Country Cookin’ chain flopped in the ’70’s, a slightly more lavish bar/restaurant to bear his name has flourished on Central Park South from 1988 onwards. The Columnists.com’s Maury Allen recalls a particularly ingenious stunt played by the eatery’s management in the autumn of 2004, as culled from Bill Linderman’s forthcoming “Mickey Mantle™s: Behind the Scenes in America™s Most Famous Sports Bar” (Lyons Press). (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)
It all came down to 2004. The Yankees had snuck another away in 2003 with a miracle homer by a journeyman named Aaron Boone. Now they were ahead again three games to none. Forget it. Hey, wait a minute. The wrong team choked. This time it was the Yankees who blew the lead. The Red Sox won the AL pennant and went on to sweep the World Series. So now we know the Red Sox can win a Series every 86 years.
What would Mickey Mantle™s restaurant do to mark the occasion? Liederman decided to rename the place in honor of the Boston triumph.
œTed Williams restaurant, writes Liederman. œThey say a rose by any other name would smell as sweet but this one smelled to New Yorkers like month old moo shoo pork.
Liederman and his clever PR man, Marty Appel, former New York Yankees spokesman, had come up with the kidding scheme to newly name Mantle™s after the Red Sox hero, Ted Williams, in honor of Boston™s triumph and as a tribute to Red Sox Nation.
It would have worked well in œThe Producers with a little side number for “Springtime for Hitler.” but sports fans are more fanatic than history fans. The city exploded with venom at Liederman for this act of a traitor to Yankee tradition. Even the Mantle family, humorless in their pursuit of the Mantle dollar, was outraged. Of course, someone had called them with a trumped up tale of what had been done.
Actually, only a computer-printed paper sign with the name of Ted Williams had covered the outside Mantle name on the famed awning. Some people just don™t have a sense of humor when it comes to Yankee losses.
Forget 9/11, the war in Iraq or a burdensome tax. This was BIG. œThe family of the late Mickey Mantle is shocked and outraged by Bill Liederman™s conduct covering the Mickey Mantle name in Mickey Mantle™s restaurant and replacing it with Ted Williams, wrote a Mantle family lawyer.
Public outrage was incredible. Nasty phone calls filled the restaurant lines. Vicious emails exploded on their computer screen. People burst into the place screaming obscenities. A voice mail announced, œYou™re dead, your kids are dead., your days on this earth are numbered, you money-grabbing Hebe.
Liederman, who loves a joke almost as he loves a good hamburger, finally backed off. He had learned a lesson, especially a lesson about Yankee fans. œYou never tread on the sacred ground of Yankee lore. It just isn™t done, PR pal Marty Appel told Burger Bill.
I have to admit, I ripped off Linderman’s idea last autumn when I proposed that Rusty Staub’s joint be temporarily renamed “Spiezio’s”. There was the small issue of Le Grande Orange’s establishment having long since gone out of business, but you can’t blame me for trying.