Plumbing is an old and honorable profession, working with ideas dating back to 2500 B.C. And in many careers, the people that worked them get honored in some special way after their passing — veterans with flags, maybe a ceremony with soldiers and words from fellow veterans depending on the rank.
So it makes sense then that, to remember his master plumber friend, a New York City man would dump his friend’s ashes down the toliet of his local ballpark. What better way to honor a fallen plumber?
The two friends and baseball fans grew up together in Queens, not far from the Flushing Meadows, which is where the Mets play. So far, to honor his friend, Tom Mcdonald has done this deed 16 times.
There are rules to this ritual, however. And McDonald works hard to follow them. The first is that the game has to be in progress when McDonald sprinkles the ashes into the toilet from a little plastic bottle.
“I know people might think it’s weird, and if it were anyone else’s ashes, I’d agree,” McDonald said. “But for Roy, this is the perfect tribute to a plumber and a baseball fan and just a brilliant, wild guy.”
After his death in 2008, the family of the deceased man, Roy Riegel, agreed to share a portion of his ashes with McDonald. Every time, before going to a game, he takes a small amount of his friend’s ashes from an old can, which is wrapped in Mets ticket subs.
The can of ashes can be found surrounded by other baseball paraphernalia — things like World Series highlight videos and McDonald’s collection of 149 Baseball Hall of Fame Autographs.
Hank Riegel, the brother of the deceased, said that his brother would greatly appreciate the gesture that his friend is doing on his behalf.
“He’d be like, ‘Oh, yeah, do that,'” H. Riegel said. “He would definitely approve of it. Never once did Roy follow the rules.”
McDonald has just enough ashes to have one more tribute to his friend, and he hopes to do it at Durham Athletic Park in North Carolina.