The Joe DiMaggio memorial row

Since Joe DiMaggio died a year ago, San Francisco has been looking for an appropriate way to honour the son who became the greatest baseball player of his generation.

The best efforts of the city Board of Supervisors have been frustrated by DiMaggio's estate lawyer, Morris Engelberg, who has said no two-bit memorial is going to be good enough. Either you name San Francisco's international airport after him, Mr Engelberg wrote in a recent letter to Supervisor Gavin Newsom, or the Bay Bridge, or else the estate will not be interested.

To say the city authorities have not appreciated such negotiating tactics would be an understatement. "Since we're not going to name the airport or the bridge after him, that ends that," the Mayor, Willie Brown, said this week.

Mr Newsom described himself as angered and nonplussed, particularly since he spent most of last year identifying parks and baseball diamonds that could be candidates for an honorary renaming, including the North Beach playground where Joe first learnt to swing a bat.

But the city has no option but to abide by the lawyer's wishes, since the will says no memorials can be erected without his estate's permission.

Mr Newsom has been duelling with Mr Engelberg for some time. "This process has been belaboured by Mr Engelberg's insistence on controlling [it]," a frustrated Mr Newsom exclaimed this week. Mr Engelberg countered: "You must keep in mind that we are attempting to carry out the wishes of the late Joe DiMaggio. Mr DiMaggio had his reasons for every decision he made, and we are attempting to honour and carry out what we believe he would have done if he were here." Including, it seems, bringing a lawsuit against the city of San Francisco.

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