San Fran, DiMag Estate Are Fighting

Friday, June 16th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — What started as an attempt to honor Joe DiMaggio is turning into an ugly infield brawl.

San Francisco leaders tried to honor the native son by naming a playground for him. DiMaggio's estate sued in May, saying the spot — where the Yankee Clipper played sandlot baseball as a child — wasn't fit for the honor.

Now the dismayed city has asked a federal judge to dismiss the suit.

``Plaintiff offers no precedent or authority for the startling proposition that a city cannot name a landmark after a favorite son,'' city attorneys said in court papers.

Morris Engelberg, a trustee and attorney for Dimaggio's estate, based in Hollywood, Fla., has said naming North Beach Playground after DiMaggio ``is both morally and legally wrong ... You can't name something without permission.''

The park was christened Joe DiMaggio North Beach Playground in February 1980, but because of bureaucratic delays, the name didn't become official until May.

To bolster its case, the city submitted to the court a declaration from DiMaggio's brother Dom about the importance of the playground to the DiMaggio brothers and the pickup games they played there.