Home Of The Graves For fans of a macabre bent, here's a website that provides the lowdown on baseball's dead and buried

January 07, 2002

Even in death Babe Ruth casts a long shadow. If you don't
believe it, check out his 10-foot-high granite tombstone (below)
at the Cemetery of the Gate of Heaven in Hawthorne, N.Y., that's
depicted on the website thedeadballera.com. Ruth's final resting
place is often adorned with fresh flowers, letters and even
plates of food--in case the Bambino still gets the munchies. "I
was blown away by it," says thedeadballera founder Frank Russo,
whose site, dedicated to deceased major leaguers and subtitled
"Where Every Player Is Safe at Home," contains photos of the
graves of Ruth and more than 1,000 other late major leaguers and
other baseball personalities. "People even hang stuff in the
surrounding trees."

Russo, a 42-year-old Web designer, traces his fascination with
baseball's dear departed to the 1979 plane crash that killed his
favorite player, New York Yankees catcher Thurman Munson. In
1999 Russo launched his site, which contains, among other
features, 1,100 obituaries, 1,004 grave locations and accounts
of the murders of 44 players and the suicides of 98 others.

While Russo often hears that his site is too morbid, he also has
been inspired by positive feedback. For instance, an office
worker sent him an e-mail describing a peaceful lunch with
coworkers at Walter Johnson's grave in Rockville, Md. Last year
Russo, who lives in East Brunswick, N.J., had a chance
grave-site meeting in nearby Montclair with Veronica O'Connell,
widow of Danny O'Connell, an infielder with four teams from 1950
to '62 who (as the site notes) died at 42 on Oct. 2, 1969, of a
coronary occlusion. Russo says Veronica professed her undying
gratitude for his efforts. "These families," he says, "want
their loved ones to be remembered."

--John O'Keefe

COLOR PHOTO: FRANK RUSSO

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)