Mickey Elven Mantle is in oil now.
"It's mostly a p.r. job," said the son of Mickey Charles Mantle. "I play golf a lot, go out to dinner a lot."
It helps to be named Mickey Mantle. That wasn't always so. With a name like his "you aren't gonna sneak by anyone."
In 1978, Mantle played about 70 games for the Class-A Alexander Dukes and batted .198. He was 25 and hadn't played regularly since junior college. He had potential as a player once; he had potential as a drawing card still.
"My dad always wanted one of us to play. I thought I'd try it, for his sake. The biggest disappointment was that I couldn't play and he wanted me to."
After 70 games and an infinite number of curve balls, he figured he had better get a job. "I like the game but I never really loved it, which I think you have to. Why? Maybe because of the pressures."
Later, he won a couple of longdriving golf tournaments (longest 342 yards) and was offered contracts to play professional softball. He talked it over with his father and decided to ask for half the money up front. "If they were going to exploit me, I was going to exploit them," he said. The offers were withdrawn.
Athletes should not be allowed to name their children after themselves. It's tough enough to make a name for yourself when your father already is one, without him putting it on your birth certificate.
"When he was alive, I spent my whole life trying to please my father," said Vince Lombardi Jr., 38, assistant executive director of the Nfl Management Council. "When he died, it was tough to find a motivation from within.
"Yeah, there were times when I wanted to be anything other than Vince Lombardi Jr. But then I turned around and named my son Vince."
Like father like son. For the offspring of an athlete, it is more than a turn of phrase: it is an expectation.
George H. Allen, the coach, gave his son, George F. Allen, his first football when the child was 4. It was a special, weighted ball the coach had designed to help centers and quarterbacks develop their arms. "It was the only one I had until I was 10 years old," said Allen. a Charlottesville lawyer and former Virginia quarterback. "It was at least twice as heavy as normal."
Like Allen's football, being the offspring of a superstar is both a very special and very weighty thing. "There is a kind of ambivalence," said Murray Howe, Gordie's youngest son, the one who skated away from hockey.
There are the long absences, the incessant comparisons with a reputation you can never quite match. And then, there are the trips to Manila, the casual introductions to Stevie Wonder and Dionne Warwick, and the pride of knowing your dad is in the Hall of Fame.
'When you're young, you keep hearing how great your dad is," Murray Howe said. "And that respect makes you decide to take the same route. You want to be just like your dad, just like every child does. That's where the pressure comes from. You want to be exactly like him but you're striving for something you really can't attain. It can do a lot to your mind."
New York psychiatrist Michael Sacks said, "Regardless of how talented the father is, a child sees the father as a superman. Part of growing up is learning to see him not as superman but as a human being. If the father really is a superman, it is very difficult to do."
By the time he was 7, people were asking Murray Howe, "Are you going to be a pro? Are you going to be as good as your dad?"
Dr. Reginald Lourie, professor emeritus of psychiatry at George Washington University, said, "In general terms, if a kid is lucky, he's got the same kind of physical and mental agility as his father and can compete -- I shouldn't say compete -- he can model himself after the father. On the other hand, not all the children are so fortunate. They may deal with their disappointment in themselves by turning in other directions.
"I'm more concerned with the kids who aren't so well put together, the kids who need more fathering but find it isn't available because the father is so busy during the crucial developmental years."
As Lourie pointed out, reporters "don't hear about the ones who don't make it," the ones "who turn off completely." Psychiatrists do.
The real problem is not the inability to measure up to the parent but the inability to cope with that reality. Mike Yastrzemski may never be another Yaz and Larry Aaron may never be another Hank, but they and the others who have come to terms with their fathers' successes are the real success stories.
Mike Yastrzemski and his father Carl used to be the star attractions in the annual Boston Red Sox father-son game. It was 1968 and people expected big things from little Yaz. "I went out to the outfield and my dad started hitting me fly balls and they all stood up and clapped," Mike said. "I started thinking, 'What if I drop one?' Then I dropped one. They all still stood up and clapped."
Now Mike is the right fielder for Florida State University, and a cheerfully hot-headed 19-year-old, just like his dad was. "We compete in anything we do," Mike said."He doesn't want me to win. I want to make him look bad. One time, he was throwing batting practice and I was hitting lousy. He started yelling at me. I hit the next pitch right up the middle and hit him in the thigh. I almost took him out of his sex life for a whole summer. I yelled back at him, 'You. . . don't you ever yell at me again.'
"This year, I had a knee operation. My fist day back, my dad said I could take some batting practice. He beaned me on the first pitch. I started calling him every name I could think of. The next time up, he hits me in the leg. He thinks it's real funny. So when he came up, I drilled him in the foot. Then I threw at his head. We get along pretty good.
"I think I have to be as good as my dad. I swing a lead bat a little more than the average guy because of my name. I work harder to please people so they won't say I stink. It's a pain in the butt. If I'm not as good, I'm not going to worry about it. Why lose sleep over something I have no control over?"
If he does not make it to the majors, he says he will become an accountant.
Every day during the spring that Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's home rund record, Larry Aaron went to school with a bodyguard. After he dropped the kids at home when classes ended, the bodyguard escorted Hank Aaron to Atlanta Stadium.
"I was aware of the all the things that were happening," said Aaron, 22. "The phone calls (saying they would) kidnap us, the death threats. We didn't let it get to us. I just felt rotton about it. If any other person had been doing it besides him, it wouldn't be happening."
The day his father hit the home run, Larry was not at the ballpark.
"My grandmother -- my mother's mother -- had died and we were in Florida. I called him the dugout. I congratulated him. He just said, 'Thank God, it's all over.'"
But for Larry, the pressure of being Hank's son hasn't ceased, one reason his father has twice told him to remove his name from the major league draft list. Larry, a senior at Florida A&M, who hit .350 two years ago before an appendectomy took 40 points off his batting average, expects to be drafted this year. "It bothers me when I come up to hit and we need a hit and people say, 'Do it like your dad.' He doesn't say too much about it. He said if I can take the pressure, then I can take anything. despite the pressures, many find it natural to follow in the sneaker/cleat/spike steps of their fathes, not just into sports but into their father's sport. There is, after all, access to facilities, expertise, and, most important, the parent.
Some fathers avoid pick-up games in the backyard, as well as their sons' team games in order to avoid pressuring them. Others make a point of finding the time to share their lives and their talent, taking them on road trips and to the stadium to shag flies. One psychiatrist said, "A lot depends on the father when he goes out to play ball with his son and the message he translates. Is it, 'Look, you've got to be the best,' or, 'Baseball is so wonderful, I love it, and it's great to have something you love no matter how great you are,'"
Some, like George Allen, say that family closeness prevents resentment.But there is also the constant struggle to establish a separate identity. Sometimes at cocktail parties if someone introduces him as the son of the George Allen, he'll say, "Nah, he's just kidding.' I'd rather be known for my own achievements," he said.
There are so many mixed feelings. Robert Mitchell, 20, a sophomore running back at Stanford with a double major in history and drama, is more articulate than most. "I was debating whether I should talk about it," he said. "My dad said, 'It's a good opportunity. You've got to get over it sooner or later.' But it's not an easy thing to talk about."
There is a kind of idenity crisis, he says. "My father is Robert C. Mitchell and I'm Robert C. Mitchell," he said. "The name isn't a major thing but it just kind of compounds the interest."
Until recently, when people introduced him as Bobby Mitchell's son, he would turn away, make himself scarce. "Since I've been away, it's gotten easier," he said. "People used to introduce me and then go ahead and talk about my father. You can see what I'm up against. I'm gonna beat it."
Some parents meet the issues head on; others don't discuss them. Kiki Vandeweghe, Ernest III to his family, forward to the Denver Nuggets, was 13 when his father, a former Knick forward, said, "'Probably it wouldn't be too good an idea if you go into basketball,'" Kiki said. "I said, 'Dad, I want to play.' He said, 'I don't think you ought to. There's a lot of pressure that you don't need. Keep swimming.'"
Colleen Howe, wife of Gordie, mother of Mark, Marty, Murray and Cathy, says the most important thing is to "hit the problem head on. First you have to recognize it. Then, heavy as it is, you try to laugh at it. We used to tell them, 'Look, it's better than being the son of someone infamous like Hitler.'"
Yogi Berra could always make people laugh. His sons Tim, Dale and Larry had Yogi's reputation to live with rather than live up to. "I never hear him say those things," said Dale, an infielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates. "I read 'em in books like everyone else."
With a bit of prompting, Dale came forward with one for the books. "One day two streakers jumped over the center field fence at Shea stadium during a rain delay and slid into second base. Dad went home and told my mom about it and she said, 'Were they boys or girsl?" Dad said, 'I don't know, they had bags over their heads.'"
Then there was the time Yogi came home and asked his wife what she had done all day. "Mom said, 'I went to see Dr. Zhivago.' Dad said, 'What the hell is wrong with you now?"
Dale's older brother Tim spent a year as a wide receiver with the Baltimore Colts and was cut the next year in training camp by the New York Giants. "Being out of sports was a big blow," but, he insists, Yogi's and Dale's success didn't make the blow any bigger.
"I think the people who feel the high expectations are probably the ones that aren't very good athletes," Dale said. "I was always the best on the block, the best on the team. I felt I lived up to the expectations.
Marvis Frazier is a heavyweight just like his dad. He doesn't mind being a chip off the old block. "Chips come from big trees," he says. Marvis and his younger brother Hector, a welter-weight, train with their father at Joe Frazier's Gym in north Philadelphia. Their younger sister Jacqui is a forward on the American University basdetball team. Her father has never seen one of her college games.
"He's real chauvinistic," she said. "But he respects women basketball players. He's never paid that much attention to my basketball, 'cause I'm not a guy. It doesn't bother me that much. He'll ask occasionally, 'Did you win"?
When Jacqui was named MVP in a tournament in Philadelphia, she was announced as Joe Frazier's daughter, Jacqui. "It really was a trip," she said. "It sort of takes away a little, you know?"
Boxing never crossed her mind, though she says, "people ask me." The only fights she had were with her brothers and kids on the playground who said stuff about her father, such as, "Ali's gonna kill him."
One day when Marvis was 8, he punched Jacqui in the stomach. "We had this special thing with my dad," Marvis said, "if we were bad, he would say: 'Let's go to the zoo.' That night my dad came home and said: 'Get up, we're going to the zoo.' We went down to the basement and put on the gloves to straighten out our differences.
"He was jabbing me on the left side of the head, and I was covering up and crying. He said, 'What are you, a little girl?" So I got mad and took a swing at him. And he said, 'Oh, so now you want to hit your father,' and he popped me a good one. Ever since then, I've never hit a girl."
That was the same year Marvis saw his first fight, when his father beat Oscar Bonavena. "I thought he was Superman," he said.
Then he saw him lose to George Foreman in Jamaica. "That's when I first realized he was human. I couldn't understand what was going on. I was at ringside and I saw him get hit and I said, 'That's not my dad.' I was very much afraid. When he went down, I started yelling, 'Get up, Dad.'"
They all hear it. Whatsa matta with the a) Bullets, b) Redskins, c) Terps, d) Dolphins? "They kid you about it," said Bob Ferry Jr., a senior guard at De Matha, who is known as "son of g.m."
"You have your standard answers. You throw one off. It bothered me more when I was younger."
Kurt Beathard, 18, was the starting quarterback at Oakton High school in Fairfax. His father, Bobby Beathard, saw all but three of him games. Next fall, he will attend his father's alma mater, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo.
Cuck Driesell, 18, a guard at Springbrook High School in Silver Spring, is considering going to Maryland and playing for his father, Lefty. "Right now, it's 50-50," he said. "I know what I'm getting myself into. I can handle it. I told my dad, 'If I go there, people might say stuff.' He said, 'I can handle it.'"
Rebels they're not.
Dave Shula, a wide receiver at Dartmoutn, 'never faced the problem: 'God, I hate what he's doing.'" Like the others, Shula said he went into football because he liked it. That doesn't mean he liked hearing, "Great game, Don," when he had one, or "What would your father say?" when he didn't. g
When he was young and his father was still the coach of the Colts, they would practice making fair catches within the boundaries of their living room. "We'd pile pillows at the bottom of the stairs and I would catch it at the top and roll all the way down to the bottom. We'd make like the top stair was out of bounds. The idea was to fall and not fumble."
At the Senior Bowl in January, Dave was a player and his father a scout.
"He did his thing and tried not to encroach on mine," Dave said.
Vince Lombardi Jr. says he was an adequate football player, good enough to be the starting fullback at St. Thoma College in Minnesota. When his father came to his games, he came on the sly. "I don't know if I would have played if not for my father," Lombardi said. "It was expected."
But his father did not spend much time passing the football with his son: "He was a coach when he did," said Lombardi. "So it was better that he didn't."
By the age of 2, Murray Howe knew that hockey was his life. So when his family moved south to Houston and the World Hockey Association, Murray stayed behind in Detroit. He was 13 and, though he was beginning to have some doubts, hockey was still his life. Three years later, he faced another choice, where to play junior hockey. He went to Toronto where hockey is everyone's life. He scored a goal in his first game and soon after was benched, Newspaper headlines read: Senecas Win; Howe's Son Sits.
He began lifting weights, running, taking karate lessons to learn to fight. But somewhere he knew he was fighting a losing battle. "The coach said, 'You'll improve.' But I began to realize they were using me for my name."
His friends told him he was smart, that he was a natural in the classroom. He had never given it any thought. He dediced to apply to college. When he was accepted at the Univesity of Michigan, he went to the coach and asked to try out. He was one of 60 walk-ons, and one of the last six cut.
"I felt like I had dropped 1,000 pounds off my shoulders," said Howe, a pre-med major with a 3.8 avaerage who never thought he was smart enough to be a doctor. "Everyone was waiting to see if I'd make pro. I'd say, I'm not good enough.' And they'd say, 'what do you mean, you're Gordie Howe's son.
"I had never been cut. For someone else to say, 'You're not good enough,' really hit hard. I wanted to say goodbye but I couldn't. I started crying. rI wrote 'good luck, guys' on the black board and left.
"It takes a lot of guts to say no."