April 06, 2020

Dying to make a statement?

For all of those Red Sox fans out there who absolutely live for baseball, death no longer has to spell an end to their passion.

If you’re a regular reader of the sports pages, you might already be aware of a new development in the funeral business that will allow fans of professional sports to take their team loyalties with them to the grave – literally.

Through a joint arrangement between a funeral products company and Major League Baseball, the die-hard sports fans of the world soon will have the opportunity to be laid out in caskets emblazoned with their favorite teams’ colors and insignias.

“Going, going, gone! … But not forgotten.”

“A fan to the end, and beyond.”

Kind of gives new meaning to the term “team spirit,” wouldn’t you say?

A spokesman for the National Funeral Directors Association said the baseball products are part of a trend that’s trying to capture “the life and the passions of the person that has passed away.”

It appears to be catching on, too. Eternal Image, which plans to make their sports-themed urns and caskets available by the next baseball season, already has received at least 1,000 inquiries about its whimsical new line. The company will begin by making urns and caskets for fans of the Red Sox, New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers, and plans eventually to have all 30 baseball teams represented.

The company also hopes to make similar licensing deals with the NFL, the NHL and NASCAR, which suggests the distinct possibility that a casket one day might roll into a funeral home somewhere in America – heaven help us – on four racing tires and its own power. And while I agree that funerals don’t necessarily have to be grim affairs, I can’t help but think it would be extremely difficult for mourners to keep a straight face while staring at a casket decked out with the Mighty Ducks logo.

Some of you are probably saying to yourselves about now, “What will they think of next? A golf-themed casket for dearly departed duffers?”

Actually, they already have. A check of the Web reveals that theme caskets have been around for a few years now, encompassing a broad range of earthly lifestyles.

Casket models with such names as “The Last Hole” and “Fairway to Heaven” come decorated stem to stern with photomurals of lovely golf courses. Late anglers can spend eternity in “Gone Fishin'” caskets, truckers in “The Last Haul” caskets, bikers in Harley-Davidson caskets, and motor-sports enthusiasts can roar out of this realm in “The Race is Over” casket, embellished with an oh-so-dignified checkered flag and trophy motif.

In the collegiate category, there’s a Texas A&M casket (“meaningful to all Aggies”), a University of Arkansas casket (“the essence of the Razorback fan”) and a University of Kentucky model for lifelong Wildcat supporters. Deceased art lovers have the choice of being buried in a casket decorated with Monet’s “Water Lilies” or his “Japanese Foot Bridge” masterpiece.

And for that jokester-to-the-end who just can’t resist having the last laugh as he’s “packed for the trip home,” there’s even a comedic casket made to look like a brown-paper bundle that’s stamped “Return to Sender” and “Express Delivery.”

Now there’s an idea that promises to put the “fun” in funerals.

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