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Winning essay

August 17, 2003

John Davidson of Fayetteville, Pa., is the winner of a Hagerstown Suns promotion in which a funeral package worth an estimated $5,500 to $6,000 was awarded to the writer of the best essay planning his own funeral.

The funeral package was given away by Gerald N. Minnich Funeral Home, which sponsored the promotion with the Suns.

Here is Davidson's winning essay:

By JOHN DAVIDSON

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust ... if the taxman don't get you, the undertaker must.

Death is an inevitable part of all our lives. It can cause a great deal of sadness in the lives of those around us and no little anticipation among potential heirs and charities such as colleges, churches and many other charities. Therefore for the sake of our friends and relatives, we should make the obsequies attending it as lighthearted and bearable as possible.

Because the Minnich Funeral Home is sponsoring this contest, and because I understand they have a very dignified graveside manner, I recommend that they should be in charge of the arrangements. It is my hope that their prices are not too stiff.

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Since the Hagerstown Suns are co-sponsoring this contest, I would like to suggest that this funeral have a baseball theme.

To borrow a few lines from "Casey at the Bat," there is "no joy in Mudville tonight, the mighty Casey has struck out."

The hope that can be derived from a funeral is embodied in the old annual battle cry of the Brooklyn Dodgers - "Wait 'til next year." I hope to be "in the land of milk and honey where rot (advancing old age) doth not corrupt and thieves do not break in and steal (second base). It will be a place where umpires have good eyesight and see everything your way.

As the daughter returned for a day in "Our Town," perhaps the Old Redhead (Red Barber) could be persuaded to return and preside at the services. He had the power to soothe the savage beast with his broadcasting in life. If not, perhaps Ernie Harwell could substitute for him. There was nothing like the voices of these men broadcasting on a hot summer's night.

For musical accompaniment, I would like that the Brooklyn Sum-phony be reunited for the service. Again, if this is impossible, you could reunite Stan Rubin and the Tigertown Five, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band or the Fire House Five plus Two. Any one of these groups could provide sufficiently upbeat music to inspire the guests. They have lifted my spirits in life and could lift them heavenward in death. I know I will need some assistance getting there.

For pall-bearers, I would like the following personages be engaged: Bob Euchre, Phil Rizzuto, Sal "The Barber" Maglie, Marvelous Marv Throneberry, Casey Stengel and Duke Snider. You could have Phil Neikro in reserve in case a substitute is needed. I especially want Marvelous Marv, who committed more errors in baseball than I made in life ... and I made plenty of them.

For a coffin, I would like you to use a large equipment box, one that had been used to carry bats and equipment from game to game. I believe it would be less expensive than the nice mahogany box the mortician is anxious to sell and would serve the purpose very nicely.

Another area where you can save some money and help the ballpark, too, would be to pick the dandelions, crabgrass chickweed and other broad-leaf pests from the outfield turf. This is an environmentally friendly idea - one of the few I have had.

I would like to request that the services be held in the barroom of the Elks Club. Having spent a fair amount of time there in life, I would feel comfortable there in death. It would be very convenient for the guests as they wouldn't have to go very far for the wake, which could be partially paid for with the savings I have outlined earlier. Please be sure the bar is well stocked with Old Granddad (100 Proof) and Old Bushmills Irish whiskey. I think Guinness Stout would make an excellent malt beverage considering its dark and somber color.

For transportation, I would ask you find a 1938 LaSalle hearse just like the one I helped Artie find for use in transporting the M.I.T. ski club on its trips to the ski slopes of New England. You should get a special license plate for it, U-2.

Finally, I would request a burial site in the right field of a ballpark. You could use a monument that didn't protrude above ground so that the right fielder won't get a monumental injury to his leg when he is chasing a long one,

Finally, I am dying to see all of you at these services.

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