- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 10, 2002

Ted Williams is possibly rolling around in a frozen metal tube in Scottsdale, Ariz., the home of a cryonics laboratory.

He did not want it that way, according to his will. He wanted to be cremated, his ashes spread over the Florida Keys.

The dispute between the daughter and son is ugly, the daughter on the side of the father and the son said to be on the side of the profit-margin line.

Buying a piece of the rock is one thing. Buying the DNA of Williams is a dressed-up form of grave-robbing that would implicate the son and buyers alike.

The memorabilia industry is nutty enough, limited though it usually is to jerseys, balls, bats and cards of the gifted. Why would anyone pay big money for that stuff? It beats most people.

The selling of Williams, if it ever comes to that, almost descends to the macabre level of Jeffrey Dahmer, America's best known cannibal who is best dead. Dahmer dabbled in the home version of cryonics, sticking the heads of his victims in a refrigerator, presumably right next to the condiments and milk.

Ignorance is bliss around cryonics, a notion that is way ahead of science, much less those with ordinary academic minds.

The head is a convenient transition point. Williams is either in the process of being stored as a head or as a head with a body, whichever complements the pocketbook of the son.

You know what they say around the cryonics office. Quit while you are a head if money is a consideration.

This was the underlying premise of sorts in "Eight Heads in a Duffel Bag," a flick that featured a bad Frank and a so-so Stu, among other heads. An ever-tanned George Hamilton was Hollywood's permission to laugh.

Crying is the alternative in this family feud, caught between the iconic image frozen in time and God knows what frozen literally.

Williams deserves better than to be a legal issue before a judge, if not fated to be a glorified guinea pig at the insistence of his son.

Williams was a genuine American hero who fashioned a Hall of Fame baseball career around two stints in a war-time military. He was clear in his wishes to have his ashes spread over the Florida Keys.

The wish went with the man, an outdoors type who liked to fish almost as much as hit a baseball. Williams lived large to the end, as an agreeable holdover from a bygone era, only now to wind up on hold as a piece of property.

A family fighting over the estate of the deceased is an American tradition, no doubt. The son has managed to make that unpleasant activity look tame in comparison.

A chair to the son's head possibly could provide him with clarity, if Jerry Springer would have him on his show.

The silence of the son can be taken as an admission of guilt, plus an acknowledgment of the ickiness. The shame apparently is registering, although its power to persuade the son to back away is lacking.

The daughter is left to claim she is on a "rescue" mission, a handy euphemism in response to the body snatching.

The daughter is working under the hot lights accorded a public figure, no fault of hers, though contrary to the man's private nature.

Even the undeserving are granted a certain dignity in death, perhaps because the passing often reveals as much about the living as it does the dead.

Unfortunately, this has deteriorated into a freak show, and nothing against those who choose to wait on science in a vacuum chamber at minus-320 degrees Fahrenheit. The operative word is choose, by the living. The cryonics company has reported a surge of inquiries into its operations since the publicity.

As it is, dignity left these proceedings as soon as the body of Williams was removed from a funeral home in Florida.

What happens next is to be decided by a judge, an unknown element considering the often baffling rulings of judges.

Williams was devastated by strokes in the last few years of his life. Now he can't even rest in peace.

It is crazy. It also is creepy.w

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