There is a growing interest today in visiting the graves of great athletes. These grave hunters have a website, www.findagrave.com, and they have collected a database that gives the final resting spots of 5,563 sports figures. Steve Rushin has written about this very popular practice.
Part of this fascination is the fact that people want to feel close to some of these old stars. Frank Russo says, “When you visit the grave of Stengel or Durocher or Ruth or Gehrig, you get a chance to be close to them. They’re not there physically, but you can feel spiritually close to them.”
Russo has a website, www.TheDeadballEra.com, which is devoted to major leaguers “on the other side of the grass.” It’s those whose colorful lives have been reduced to a bronze hyphen.
Hollywood is the home of Parisian Florist, which for 20 years had a standing order from Joe DiMaggio to make a twice-weekly delivery of roses to Marilyn Monroe’s crypt in the Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park. One man was so enthralled with Marilyn Monroe that he paid to be buried face down in the crypt above Marilyn Monroe! Hugh Hefner bought the tomb next to hers.
It is fascinating that so many people are “grave visiting” and want some kind of emotional thrill to be near the casket of a celebrity. It seems to me that intelligent people would know that you can’t feel close to somebody who is not in a grave. There might still be some remains of a body, but those people are spending eternity somewhere. They are not there. They are not going to come back from the grave.
I remember a cute story about a man who went out to a cemetery to place roses on the grave of a friend. Right near him was an oriental man who brought a bowl of rice to place on the headstone of a friend of his. The American thought that was a rather strange thing to do so he said to the Asian man, “When do you expect your friend to come up and eat the rice?” The Asian simply smiled at him and said, “The same time your friend comes up and smells the roses.”
Death is not the end – it is only a transition into an eternal existence. Where one spends eternity is not dependant on athletic statistics, or good deeds, or accumulated fame. It is all determined by whether or not a person receives the grace God offered through His Son Jesus Christ. He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who lives and believes in Me shall never die but shall have eternal life.” John 11:25
I think I will start a website called www.rev21:27.com. It already contains the eternal destination of all who are deceased.
Jack Norworth’s remains lie in a cemetery near the Santa Ana freeway. He retired in California where he started the Little League program there in 1952. In 1908 he wrote a little song “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” which is still sung at the seventh inning stretch of many baseball games. “Take me out to the ball game, Take me out with the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks, I don’t care if I never get back.”
You can get back from the game but not the grave. The grave is the place where we get on to our eternal destiny. We don’t need grave visitors – we need eternity celebrators!