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338A dying Cubs fan's last request?

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  • Matt Hucke
    Jul 11 3:39 PM
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      (I don't agree with the "gloomy" bit... BNC is a beautiful place).

      Spot for fans whose team hasn't won in an eternity

      By DON BABWIN | Associated Press Writer
      5:05 PM CDT, July 11, 2008

      CHICAGO - Finally, the perfect answer for a team that has been
      killing its fans for 100 years: A place to put their remains.

      A Chicago man and Bohemian National Cemetery on the city's North
      Side are joining forces to build for Cubs fans a final resting place
      that looks a lot like the spot where they saw their dreams of a
      pennant die year after year.

      Called "Beyond the Vines," the 24-foot long ivy-covered wall is
      designed to look like the one in dead center at Wrigley Field.

      It's all on the drawing board now, but the wall is expected to be
      up and ready to accept fans in October -- just about the time Cubs
      fans are starting their annual mantra of "Wait till next year."

      And when it does go up, Dennis Mascari the president of Fans Forever,
      Inc., says it will transform the cemetery experience, if not for
      the dead, at least for the living.

      "When you come to a cemetery to visit a loved one it's usually a
      pretty sad, gloomy situation," he said, standing on the lawn where
      the wall will be erected. "But when you come here and visit (what
      looks like) his home away from home ... Wrigley Field, it's going
      to be a great feeling for people."

      Mascari, 60, is envisioning something special. There will be a
      stained-glass scoreboard. And at each of the 280 niches in the wall
      -- "eternal skyboxes, that's what we call them," he says -- there
      will be an urn emblazoned with the Cubs logo.

      Near each urn will be a bronze baseball card with a photograph of
      the deceased fan who, Mascari said, depending on the wishes of the
      family can be dressed up in a Cubs hat, Cubs jersey or full Cubs
      uniform. It could also include the dead fan's 'statistics' such as
      date of birth, date of death, and maybe their favorite Cubs game
      and favorite Cub.

      There's even talk of piping in Cubs games on speakers so nobody,
      living or dead, will miss an inning. Not only that, but if this
      idea appeals to more than 280 Cubs fans, the cemetery has set aside
      enough land to add a right-field wall and a left-field wall.

      The price tag for interment will cost as much as $5,000, the "grand
      slam" package that includes pick up of the body and delivery to
      Bohemian for cremation in its brand new $100,000 cremation oven, a
      service, and, of course, the baseball card plaque and urn.

      But Mascari knows there are plenty of fans who have long since died
      and their remains are just sitting in urns somewhere, waiting for
      their own Field of Dreams. Interment of those ashes can cost as
      little as $1,200.

      If this sounds, well, crazy, urns with the logo of the Cubs and
      other sports teams are already on the market and the maker of those
      urns -- Eternal Image -- says last year that Cubs urns accounted
      for 10 percent of their Major League urn sales.

      And nobody who saw survivors of dead Cubs fans bring photographs
      to the 2003 playoffs will forget the sight of them trudging home,
      pictures under their arms, after the Cubs once again failed to reach
      the World Series.

      Besides, Cubs fans have for years been scattering ashes of loved
      ones at Wrigley Field -- a tradition immortalized by the late
      singer-songwriter Steve Goodman, in whose "A Dying Cub Fan's Last
      Request" an old man asks his own family to do just that at the
      "ivy-covered burial ground." Those ashes include some of Goodman's,
      scattered there by family and friends a year after his death.

      That tradition reminds Mascari that his wall can offer something
      to fans they can't possibly get from having their ashes scattered
      on the outfield grass: Peace of mind.

      "Last year the turf (at Wrigley) was removed," Mascari explained.
      "So something like this would make sure that fans would never have
      to worry about any turf being removed and put somewhere else."

      Over at Wrigley, the Cubs aren't saying much. Team spokesman Peter
      Chase said in an e-mail that nobody connected with the team had
      heard of the wall or wanted to talk about it.

      A longtime Cubs fan himself, Mascari hopes the team likes the idea,
      if for no other reason it might prompt fans to head to his wall and
      not Wrigley with dead fans' ashes.

      But since there won't be a Cubs logo on the wall and the company
      that makes the urns is already licensed to do so by Major League
      Baseball, he doesn't think the Cubs can stop the wall if they wanted

      One man who is talking about it is Philip Roux, the superintendent
      at the cemetery.

      "I think this is great, the best publicity a cemetery could have,"
      said Roux.

      For one thing, he said it would remind people that the cemetery
      perhaps best known for being the final resting place for Anton
      Cermak, the Chicago mayor who was assassinated by a man aiming for
      President Franklin D. Roosevelt, is still open.

      "We have space available," Roux said.

      The big test will, of course, be convincing Cubs fans their remains
      belong in the friendly confines of Bohemian National Cemetery.

      Out at Wrigley, where the Cubs were playing this week, fans' opinions
      varied. Some said they hated the idea. Others said they liked it
      but wouldn't want their remains to be alone and they just couldn't
      imagine their family members joining them.

      Steve Kopetsky, a 53-year-old fan who lives in Corte Madera, Calif.,
      said he didn't have a problem with spending the money to reserve a
      spot on the wall as much as he did if word got out that he'd done

      "My wife would kill me," he said.

      But Don Rood, a 31-year-old Chicagoan who wore his "Die-Hard Cub
      Fan" shirt to the game, said it makes perfect sense.

      "What else are you going to do, lay in a box next to loved ones?"
      he asked. "It would symbolize what your passion is, what you enjoyed
      about your life."

      hucke@... - http://www.graveyards.com

      It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the Leaf
      of China that thoughts acquire speed, the hands acquire shaking,
      the shaking becomes a warning. It is by caffeine alone I set my
      mind in motion.
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