Derek Jeter, Traditionalist: Death and Class in New York City

From a New York Times look back at the life of Isaac Brown, the 19th-century carpenter-turned-Episcopal-sexton and social planner who made himself indispensable (while living) to the city’s upper crust:

At Mr. Brown’s funeral—on Aug. 26, 1880—eight Knights Templar bore aloft a coffin made of polished Spanish cedar that was, as The Times reported, “large enough for two ordinary men.” Mr. Brown was as splendidly turned out in death as he always was in life: his body was attired in “a fashionably-cut full-dress suit of broadcloth, stand-up collar and white necktie.”

The crowd, however, was somewhat less elegant. It was mostly composed of “tradespeople, servants and persons from the humbler walks of life.” There were neighbors from his old block on East 21st Street, and many curious strangers. What there were not, however, were socialites.

“Most of the wealthier members of the congregation, whose marriages and feasts Mr. Brown had superintended for 30 years,” The Times reported, “were away at Newport,” and did not come back to attend.

 From Daily News coverage of New York Yankees public announcer Bob Sheppard’s funeral: 

It was just too bad that not a single player whose name Sheppard introduced, ever so properly and eloquently, over 57 years as the Yankees’ P.A. announcer, was among those paying their final respects to the “Voice of God.” Even if one player - certainly one among the former players employed by the team for this very purpose - would have shown up, it would have provided the touch of class George Steinbrenner always made sure to exhibit in these circumstances.

It’s been a tough week, no doubt, for the Yankees, who are mourning the loss of Steinbrenner, which came on the heels of Sheppard’s death on Sunday. Sheppard, especially, probably would not have felt slighted that no player, past or present, was among the hundreds paying their respects at the Church of Saint Christopher in Baldwin, L.I.

The Newark Star-Ledger supplied an explanation from team captain Derek Jeter, “who still uses the recording of Sheppard announcing his name before he walks to the plate”:

“To be honest with you, I didn’t know his funeral was yesterday,” Jeter said. “Having said that, I don’t think you have to go to a funeral to honor someone. I think a lot of players have honored him. It’s the reason I’ve walked up to a recording of his voice for the last few years and I’ll continue to do that every time I go to the plate for the rest of my career. But I was not aware. I don’t know how many other players were aware of it.”