Chicago cemetery modeled after Wrigley Field
The cemetery features a red brick wall like center field at Wrigley
The cemetery is also offering $800 Cubbie blue and white urns
There are four seats from Wrigley where loved ones can recall shared memories
CHICAGO (AP) -- Fans of the team that hasn't won the World Series in 101 years now have a place where they can wait an eternity for a title, if necessary.
A red brick wall designed to resemble the one in dead center at Wrigley Field has been erected in a Chicago cemetery and is ready to accept the cremated remains of Cubs fans -- inside $800 Cubbie blue and white urns if they wish.
Dedicated a few days ago, the wall with its stained-glass scoreboard has what Fans Forever president Dennis Mascari likes to call "skyboxes" to accommodate 288 "season-ticket holders."
There are four seats from Wrigley where loved ones can sit and recall shared afternoons at the ballpark or relive yet again those conversations about how the Cubs let Lou Brock go to the hated Cardinals and didn't resign Greg Maddux.
There's even a small patch of lawn that Mascari said he snagged outside Wrigley when the team dumped it there after tearing it out to replace it.
"You can bring your family out here, you can have a game of catch," said Mascari, who envisions the 32-foot-long wall at Bohemian National Cemetery as a sort of eternal field of dreams. "You can sit here and feel like you're at the ballpark."
Mascari said some not-yet-departed fans have signed up with his company, though he won't say how many. And he said he's heard from survivors of fans whose cremated remains are in urns at home or at some other cemetery who might want to make a move.
All told, he expects paid attendance to reach 15 or 20 within a month and climb just like the ivy he planted at the base of the wall. He also said if things go well and the wall fills up, he wants to add a left field wall topped by stained-glass rooftop scene and a right field wall topped by one showing the bleachers and the elevated train that runs behind Wrigley.
None of it sounds farfetched to Jim Simkins, an owner of a funeral home in nearby Morton Grove who attended the wall's dedication.
"If you read the death notices, they always say die-hard Cubs fans, grandma couldn't wait any longer for the Cubs to win the pennant or something like that," he said, chuckling. "Well, now they can wait there with all the other suffering fans."
Even some of Mascari's friends who aren't ready to commit to the wall as a final resting place are confident there's a market out there for it.
"A lot of Cubs fans are shut-ins who live and die with the Cubs every game, it's their whole life," said Ricky Greenspan, who has known the 61-year-old Mascari since they were kids. "Especially when the Cubs aren't allowing loved ones (ashes) to be sprinkled on the field, the next best thing is this."
One of those who wants in is 86-year-old Rudy Betzold.
"He said 'I can't wait to get there,"' said his son, Chuck Betzold, a member of the cemetery association.
His spot is already picked out. It's right next to the yellow "400" that looks like the 400-foot marker at Wrigley that the younger Betzold painted himself.
"Because Dad's going in the wall, I helped out," he explained.
Betzold said he thinks his dad has purchased the "Grand Slam" package that includes a service, bronze baseball card plaque, Cubs urn, and one of the roomier spots in the wall that's big enough to accommodate that urn.
That package, said Mascari, goes for about $4,700. The total cost goes up another $1,500 for the cremation, sold separately, and handled by someone else.
As for the Cubs, they've no intention of getting involved at all, Peter Chase, a spokesman for the team said in an e-mail. Mascari said when he talked to the team, he was politely but firmly told that the wall better not have anything that resembled the team's big red C logo.
But the logo will be part of the wall -- both inside the urns and on the nameplates attached to the outside.
The urns and plaques are already licensed by Major League Baseball, Mascari said.
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