December 15, 2008
Pondering the Ultimate Sky Box
By FRANCIS X. CLINES
Leaving no merchandising stone unturned, Major League Baseball has authorized the use of team logos on a line of funeral caskets for people who want to carry their fandom unto eternity. Models for the Yankees (replete with interior pinstripes) and the Mets (with handles of mixed Dodger blue and Giant orange) went on sale at the Branch Funeral Home in Smithtown, Long Island.
The caskets gleam in cream-colored 18-gauge steel, with the team logo embossed on both the open lid lining and the loved one’s head pillow. They dominate the display room’s 22 caskets, attracting more interest than the Harvard gunmetal model, the copper Pieta, or the solid cherry Senator, according to John Vigilante, the funeral home manager and a lifelong Mets fan.
For baseball fans, the only distractions lately have been winter trades as teams swap their moribund bullpen arms and flatlining batters in hopes of livelier teams next year. For those feeling particularly restless between the demise of last season and the birth of spring training, the contemplation of such a resting place may fill the bleak hours.
Mr. Vigilante reports that the home team caskets — priced at $5,000, or 20 percent more than the non-logo model — have drawn admiration and not a word of complaint as they at least give pause to families in grief.
He finds them a logical evolution from last wishes in which a treasured autographed baseball or a beloved dog’s ashes are routinely interred with the deceased. The undertaker even hopes to purchase dirt from the defunct stadiums of the Mets and Yankees to burnish the occasion: “You know, toss infield dirt on the casket as a sendoff.”
The first baseball coffin was reported sold, prepaid by a Mets fan. He told a sports writer at The Daily News that it was only appropriate because “they’re going to drive me to my grave."
I guess for your "field of dreams" fan(atic) in the hereafter. No matter what you think, though, it is not any weirder than any other particular customary death ritual.