A baseball fan’s ashes were too good for the Metrodome, so they went down the toilet

The people who take care of some of the nation’s most storied baseball parks — Wrigley Field, for example — say that one of the most common problems they have is people trying to dump a friend or family member’s ashes on the field.

So Roy Riegel, who died nine years ago, is doing them all a favor, as the New York Times tells it. He’s being flushed down the urinals at baseball stadiums instead.

Mr. Riegel was a plumber.

He has an accomplice, of course. It’s Tom McDonald, 56. The two grew up near each other and used to go to the old Shea Stadium, home of the New York Mets. But on the last day of the last game ever played at the stadium, Riegel wasn’t feeling well so McDonald went to the game alone, returning home to the news that Riegel was dead.

“I know people might think it’s weird, and if it were anyone else’s ashes, I’d agree,” he said. “But for Roy, this is the perfect tribute to a plumber and a baseball fan and just a brilliant, wild guy.”

McDonald’s initial idea was to spread the ashes on baseball fields around America. But a gust of wind in Pittsburgh created a mess and then McDonald and a companion came to the Metrodome in Minneapolis and realized an indoor ballpark was no place for eternal rest.

But Minneapolis provided its own brand of inspiration, for it was at a nearby, if unnamed, Irish Pub that McDonald came up with the urinal idea.

“I just took care of Roy,” McDonald announced upon return from the pub’s bathroom. The ashes that weren’t good enough for the Metrodome, were good enough for the toilet.

“Right there, it hit me,” Mr. McDonald tells the Times. “After that, it just took on a life of its own.”

For each trip, Mr. McDonald spoons some ashes into an empty Advil bottle from the can, whose exterior is wrapped in old Mets ticket stubs. He said he had enough left for one more tribute, which he plans on doing at Durham Athletic Park, the former minor league ballpark in North Carolina where the 1988 movie “Bull Durham” was filmed.

Mr. Riegel’s youngest brother, Hank Riegel, of Waterloo, N.Y., called Mr. McDonald’s method of ash scattering appropriate, given his brother’s offbeat outlook on life.

“He’d be like, ‘Oh, yeah, do that,’” Hank Riegel said. “He would definitely approve of it. Never once did Roy follow the rules.

He is now traveling from stadium to stadium, leaving a little bit of Mr. Riegel behind. The exception is Wrigley Field. A Mets fan wants nothing to do with the Cubs.

  • >>The exception is Wrigley Field. A Mets fan wants nothing to do with the Cubs.<<

    He should do it just for those times the Mets visit Wrigley.


    • John O.

      I’d go to Comiskey…or whatever they call it this week.

    • jon

      Announce a 100 year curse when you are doing it. Nothing gets your average Cubs fan more worked up than a curse (Maybe ketchup on hot dogs).

  • MrE85

    If the Metrodome was good enough for two World Series, it’s good enough for a dead plumber.

  • Gary F

    I don’t want my ashes dumped in a urinal. But if they were, I’d want mine dumped in the urinals at Stanley’s, formerly Stasiu ‘s in NE Minneapolis.

  • ETK

    what a Magnificant (or Regiel) way to say goodbye

  • Rob

    Plumbing the depths of after-life send-offs…

  • KTFoley

    Despite the headline and the caption here, the original article didn’t cast any aspersions on the Metrodome itself.

    Mr. McDonald “realized that an indoor stadium was not an appropriate setting.” Makes sense to me — no mingling with wind, water or turf; the ashes would’ve just been swept up as dirt. He would have come to the same conclusion in Toronto or Tampa Bay.

    • You’ve just described the problem with the Metrodome . It’s indoors and unsuitable for eternal rest for a baseball fan. That’s his point.

      • KTFoley

        I think it described the problem with ashes and indoor spaces, period,

  • rallysocks

    “The Metrodome was one of the few baseball stadiums that could make a urinal look good as a final resting place.”

    Possibly the best caption I’ve read in my lifetime.

    Edited to remove extraneous marks