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Station apologizes for scaring relatives

4/2/2004 - New York Yankees

EVANSVILLE, Ind. -- Two disc jockeys apologized for an April
Fool's prank that caused a scare for family members of New York
Yankees hitting coach Don Mattingly.

When Mattingly's two younger sons arrived at school Thursday
morning, concerned classmates told them that WSTO morning show
hosts Brad Booker and Diane Douglas were extending their on-air
thoughts and prayers to the Mattingly family.

The broadcast made the youngsters assume something bad had
happened to their father, who was in Japan with his wife, Kim, for
the Yankees' series with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

In reality, the on-air remarks were part of a prank.

"Our idea was to mention several times that our thoughts and
prayers were with the friends and family of Don Mattingly. Later in
the morning, we planned on stating that he had nicked himself
shaving and we were concerned for him," Booker said in a news
release posted on the Evansville station's Web site.

But Mattingly's family members -- including 12-year-old Jordon
and 16-year old Preston, who had stayed behind in Evansville --
weren't in on the joke.

"It upset the youngest boy," Mattingly's father-in-law, Dennis
Sexton, told Evansville television station WEHT. "He kind of shed
some tears because he was worried about his mom, dad and brother."

Sexton said he "kind of panicked" because he knew his daughter
and son-in-law were on their way home from Japan.

Sexton said the younger Mattingly boys reached Don, Kim and
Taylor Mattingly by phone on Thursday afternoon.

Mattingly's oldest son Taylor was also in Japan. He was drafted
by the Yankees last summer.

The radio station later posted a public apology on its Web site.

"Unfortunately, we did not realize the impact our statements
would have on Don's friends and family members," Booker said.

Tim Huelsing, general manager of the radio station, said the
disc jockeys "understand the severity of this mistake ... but they
have assured me that it won't happen again. It won't happen
again."