Flushing Away an Old Friend

In early May, the New York Times published a piece on baseball fan Tom McDonald. “Porky,” as he goes by, is not unusual in the sense that he is a baseball nut, and a devout fan of the New York Mets. Rather, it’s what he’s done at numerous baseball fields around the country that makes Porky’s story unique.

He flushes his deceased friend’s ashes down the toilet at ballparks.

As chronicled in the article from the NYT, Porky honors one of his best friends, Roy Riegel, who was a plumber and fellow baseball nut, by ‘spreading’ his ashes around the country. And the final stop on his journey was Durham Athletic Park, the filming site of ‘Bull Durham.’

Porky, who lives in Queens, arrived to the DAP on the morning of Friday, August 11. He was joined by his childhood friend and retired NYPD officer Charles Coor, who now lives in Holly Springs. The two walked around the facility for a bit, and chatted with a videographer who made the trip with Porky to Durham.

Making the day even more poignant was that Friday marked the 14th anniversary of the death of one of Porky and Riegel’s childhood friends, Franky.

After seeing the facility and taking some pictures, McDonald decided it was time to flush the final remains of his childhood friend down the toilet of a men’s restroom at the DAP.

No one joined Porky as he made his way under the DAP’s seating bowl, entering the men’s restroom on the first base side. There were no cameras, no one else, just Porky, as he emptied the ashes from an old Advil bottle into the toilet.

Jovial in nature, Porky spoke of his journey and his way of honoring his friend with a smile on his face, acknowledging the uniqueness of the situation, but also recognizing it as a fun, appropriate way to honor his baseball buddy. It was this that made Porky’s exit from the restroom surprising, as he simply said, “I didn’t expect that,” while wiping some tears from his eyes and embracing Coor in a hug.

“It just all hit me,” he said. “I said, ‘this is for Roy and Franky,’ and it all just hit me at once.”

There’s something about baseball that connects people more than other sports. Perhaps it’s the length of the season compared to other sports. Perhaps it’s the fact fans can converse throughout the game and still never miss any action. And perhaps there’s no clear cut answer, other than the fact that baseball is a special sport.

For Porky and his group of friends, there’s no question baseball played a part in their strong connection. And although the ashes are gone, there’s no doubt Porky will still be reminded of his friends whenever he’s at a ballgame.

Or a restroom.