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That’s Baseball, Suzyn

Will Bardenwerper’s portrait of baseball’s fading farm system [“Minor Threat,” Letter from Pulaski, October] brought me back to summer evenings in the Fifties, watching minor-league games in Wilkes-Barre, the Pennsylvania coal-mining city where I grew up. My father, uncle, older brother, a few cousins, and I would arrive early at Artillery Park. We’d get seats and look for friends; we’d fill up on stadium food and watch batting practice.

That was just the prelude. Then our home team, the Wilkes-Barre Barons—named for the coal barons who scourged the land—would take to the field. Our father and our uncle dutifully kept the box scores.

Which team won hardly mattered. After the game, we’d rush to the gates and wait for the players. Probably tired, definitely underpaid, likely heading for their favorite taverns, they’d sign whatever paper we had handy. What treasures those signatures were, especially when one belonged to a guy who later got called up to the majors.

Robert J. Gill
The Villages, Fla.


Bardenwerper presents an idyllic picture of our national pastime and the entertainment minor-league teams provide. The problem is who pays for it.

Minor-league baseball depends on the labor of players pursuing largely unrealistic dreams. In the majors, it’s different: cities and states spend billions of taxpayer dollars building stadiums for privately owned teams. The system is akin to the government building movie theaters for Hollywood. Perhaps instead of asking whether minor-league baseball should be preserved, we should ask why major-league baseball and other big-time sports are subsidized with taxpayer money.

Kris Sundberg
Mercer Island, Wash.



A Lifetime Subscription

Lisa Wells [“To Be a Field of Poppies,” Report, October] writes about two kinds of people: those who spend time thinking about their future corpse and those who prefer not to. Unlike Wells, I belong to the second category.

Although I can’t ignore my mortality, I’d rather not dwell on it. The daily effort to make the most of my life is so taxing that I don’t have much time to spend considering death—though I know someday I’ll be pushing daisies, or poppies, or something else.

The article reminded me of a truth I’d been avoiding: just as we all must consider the impact our lives have on our families and friends, the same applies to our deaths. As a former scientist, I found Wells’s account of human composting both fascinating and slightly disturbing. Though I hear her argument about ecological utility—“we don’t have to wait to die to make ourselves useful”—I still find it unsettling to imagine bacteria deconstructing my body, as if my remains were merely steak bones in a bin.

Still, the article piqued my curiosity—I’m a science journalist who currently covers space. Maybe there’s something to be said for the natural symmetry of it all. Stars eventually expend their energy and burst across the cosmos, with much of that matter becoming the material of other stars, other worlds. Shouldn’t our bodies be so lucky?

Ramin Skibba
San Diego


It is often said that death is the great equalizer, that it takes everyone just the same. But the adage is not completely true. Wells’s story called to mind the Bundren family in Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, and the experience of life and death for those who can’t afford an “eight-foot-long steel cylinder” in which to compost their dead.

Recompose’s methods are environmentally responsible. But reading about Precompose, the company’s $5,500 human-composting payment plan, reminded me of those exorbitant hospital bills for labor and delivery that make the rounds on Twitter. Just as certain birth practices, such as skin-to-skin contact, cost extra, burial practices—even eco-friendly ones—are riddled with expenses. It’s strange to imagine Netflix-like subscription bills arriving every thirty days, your death subsumed into a startup.

That being said, Precompose is a genius name. “I could just remember how my father used to say that the reason for living was to get ready to stay dead a long time,” Addie says in As I Lay Dying. There’s no better way to prepare than to subscribe.

Ann Boyle
Brooklyn, N.Y.

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December 2021

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