Sunday, August 10, 2003

The Parent Trap

Sports world asks: Why can't they be like Mike?

By Ryan Ernst
The Cincinnati Enquirer

A tennis father in France has been accused of drugging his son's opponents, one of whom died as a result. Also this week, LPGA players met to discuss alleged cheating by Korean players' dads.

This is terrible. But it is far from new. For years, parents have pushed kids until they cried, pressured coaches into physical altercations and been physically removed from the stands. Here, then, are the best of the best in the Top of the Second Infamous Sports Parents Hall of Fame:

• Jim Pierce: After daughter Mary Pierce fired him as her tennis coach, he stalked her before he finally was banned from WTA events.

• Earl Woods: He compared his son, Tiger, to Ghandi in Tiger's second year on tour. Yes, that Ghandi.

• Peter Graf: When this guy wasn't exploiting the talents of his tennis-playing daughter, Steffi, he was exploiting German tax laws, for which he did time.

• Roy Turner: Not only was the Yankees coach from the Bad News Bears a classic villain, in the middle of the league championship he smacked his son Joey like the kid was a Golden Tee machine.

• Mutt Mantle: When Mickey was sent down to Triple-A early in his career, he called the man who forced him to switch hit and told him he was coming home. Dad's reply? "I thought I raised a ballplayer. You're nothing but a coward and a quitter."

• Minna Wilson: In 1989, this mother of light heavyweight Tony Wilson burst into the ring and began hitting her son's opponent with her high-heeled shoe. The barrage opened a cut in the fighter's head that required four stitches.

• The parents of any Olympian from an '80s communist country: Nothing says "I love you" like putting your 3-year-old in a gymnastics factory.

• Marv Marinovich: This guy was to football fathers what Brooke Shields' mom was to stage mothers.

• Damir Dokic: In one of his many public outbursts, the former boxer and father of Australian tennis player Jelena Dokic smashed a reporter's cell phone at Wimbledon and denounced all of England as "fascist" before being escorted from the stadium.

• Bobby Knight: Think of this. From 1991-95, Pat Knight not only had to deal with his dad at practice and games, but he had to go home with him. Ouch.

• Gloria James: The Hummer-purchasing loud-mouth mother of LeBron makes Allen Iverson's mom look like Mrs. Brady.

• Richard Williams: What is it with the fathers of female tennis players?

• Joe Toney: The biological father of Shaquille O'Neal walked out on him as a baby, then hit the talk show circuit when Shaq hit it big.

• B.J. Wie: We just have a bad feeling about this guy. He wants to be Earl Woods more than his daughter wants to be Tiger.

• Amanda Cobb: Ty Cobb's mother killed his father - and walked - just before Ty reached the minor leagues

• Felipe de Jesus Almonte: The father of Little League pitcher not-so-man-childish Danny Almonte lied about his son's age and falsified a birth certificate. Amateur athletics. Nice.



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