Joe Lavin

August 2006

From Boston Sports Review

True Die Hards: Rooting from Beyond the Grave

So let's say that you're a Red Sox fan and you happen to have the misfortune to die. It would appear that your time as a fan is about over, but it doesn't have to be thanks to the people at Eternal Image, Inc. That's because Major League Baseball has reached an agreement with this company allowing them to make customized coffins and urns featuring the logos of all thirty Major League teams.

Now that the Red Sox have won the World Series, not only can you die in peace, you can also die in your own Red Sox coffin and root for The Olde Towne Team forever. These coffins are extra spacious too, allowing you the mobility to roll over in your grave whenever future Sox managers do something stupid. Aside from the fact that you'll be dead, the news couldn't be any better.

After years of killing us, I suppose it's inevitable that the Red Sox would start to appear on coffins. With all the Red Sox merchandise on sale now, the only question is why this didn't happen earlier. The team has gone after every other possible market, so why not the zombie market too?

I don't mean to come off as a casual fan, but I don't think I'll be getting a Red Sox coffin of my own. I guess I'm just not THAT big a Sox fan. I would like to think that once I die I'll have more things to be concerned about than the latest Red Sox box score. Don't get me wrong. Until then, I'm very much concerned with each and every game, but upon death I think I might be watching something else occasionally. I hear heaven has a killer cable package.

Once other leagues sign up for this, we could have some serious problems though. What if you love the Patriots and the Red Sox equally? What do you do then? And what about the players? With free agency, this could cause problems for them too. Will Roger Clemens get buried as an Astro or a Red Sox? Will Pedro be a Met? And I wonder whether Wade Boggs has signed a contract with Tampa Bay to go into the ground as a Devil Ray.

Death, of course, is a big business. The Cremation Association of North America (Now, there's a group that know how to party!) believes that natural deaths will increase dramatically in the next twenty years. According to an Eternal Image press release, "This will create over $100 billion in aggregate sales for the funeral products industry…. Management believes the licensing relationships established today will build the foundation for Eternal Image to be a mature and respected company."

Hey, there's nothing quite like licensing death. It's only a matter of time before they start selling advertising space on coffins too. You've heard of ballpark signage. Get ready for graveyard signage too.

Themed coffins aren't entirely new. Already, it's possible to buy a soccer-shaped urn in the colors of the German soccer team Borussia Dortmund. In Reading, England, for about a thousand dollars, you can get a blue and white striped coffin, representing the Reading Football Club. You can even buy a Harley-Davidson coffin, appropriately nicknamed the "Highway to Heaven" model.

In his entertaining book about Alabama football, "Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer," Warren St John tells of one football fan who was buried in Alabama colors:

"His casket was crimson, with the University of Alabama seal on the outside of the lid and a crimson 'A' sewn into the satin lining on the inside…. Even the biblical reading, Ezekial 20:29, invoked the Crimson Tide, 'And I said unto them, "What is the high place whereunto you go?" And the name whereof is called Bamah.'"

So this is one area where the Red Sox and baseball clearly need to catch up. Obviously, the Red Sox are not mentioned in the Bible -- clearly a regrettable omission from The Big Guy Upstairs -- but there are other ways we can make our mark on eternal fandom.

Why stop with just a Red Sox coffin? To capture the true nature of the region, perhaps we need a little negativity too. Just think of the demand if Eternal Image also offered a "Yankees Suck" coffin. Future archaeologists will no doubt wonder why so many New Englanders were buried in boxes containing derogatory comments about somebody named Jeter, but at least they'll have a chance to learn something about our culture.

©2006 Joe Lavin
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