Owner jokingly considered renaming restaurant

Updated: October 22, 2004, 9:19 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Mickey Mantle is still a New York fixture.

A day after the owner of Mickey Mantle's restaurant said he would change the establishment's name to Ted Williams' and make employees wear Red Sox uniforms during the World Series, he admitted the idea was a joke.

"It's was tongue-in-cheek and I wanted to have fun with things ... poking fun at the Sox that they still don't have a Series," Bill Liederman said on the Dan Patrick Show on ESPN Radio. "I have 15 messages on my machine today ... some are death threats. I'm here to say that if the Mantle family was offended in any way by this ... we do apologize."

The Yankee legend's family had issued a statement earlier Friday saying they were disappointed in the name change and had not been consulted.

The New York Post reported on its Web site Friday that a paper sign with Williams' name had been put up outside the restaurant, but employees were still answering the phone by saying, "Mickey Mantle's." The restaurant was also selling Red Sox hats, although it was reported later Friday that the sign had been removed and Boston merchandise was no longer being sold inside the establishment.

Before Liederman confessed to the ruse, he noted that the Yankees' Game 7 loss to Boston had come on what would have been the Mick's 73rd birthday, and he reportedly said Mantle's spirit had convinced him to change the restaurant's name.