Summerall helped Mantle opt for rehab program

February 01, 1994|By N.Y. Times News Service

NEW YORK -- Mickey Mantle and Pat Summerall are longtime friends, former star athletes in their 60s with different backgrounds and education.

But they had one common, destructive vice: alcohol.

Two years ago, after Summerall could not complete his announcing chores at the Masters golf tournament, friends and family intervened to persuade him to get help for his alcohol abuse. He reluctantly agreed to enter the Betty Ford Center, the clinic in Rancho Mirage, Calif., for a 33-day stay and has been sober ever since.

Mantle's decision to enter the Ford clinic last week was aided by Summerall. A statement issued by Mantle's business manager said that Mantle had had a 43-year battle with alcohol and has suffered from memory loss and blackouts for six years.

"I was the friend who intervened," Summerall said. "We've had a number of long, tearful talks. There were a lot of similarities between us. If I hadn't been there, and hadn't told him how familiar I was with the center, he wouldn't have gone."

Summerall said that after his stay at the clinic, which is well-known for treating celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor, Mantle "didn't express much interest." But recently, he said, Mantle "was very inquisitive."

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