Funeral director Kaczorowski takes a bow on ESPN
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 11:30

Spot highlights sports obsession after death

by Ben Boehl

    If you are a fan of ESPN, you’ve probably seen how the network has run commercials about fan obsession called  “It’s Not Crazy, It’s Sports.” 
    The cable sports network aired a commercial that showed how fans of NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon are obsessed with his number 24.
    There is the one with a middle-aged man with the name “Michael Jordan,” who disappoints everyone when he doesn’t turn out to be the NBA great.
    And much to the chagrin of Ravens fans, there is a commercial showing how Steeler fans take their Terrible Towels everywhere with them.
    While Baltimore sports fans may not have liked that commercial, they should like the latest ESPN commercial that shows the Oriole-themed casket of a deceased Baltimore Oriole fan.

    Actually, the commercial features a funeral director talking about that special Oriole casket. That funeral director is Chuck Kaczorowski from Kaczorowski Funeral Home on Dundalk Avenue.
    Kaczorowski said his son Mike had ordered an Oriole casket that sat around the funeral home; it was finally used after a daughter requested the casket for her deceased father. Kaczorowski mentioned that the deceased fan was buried wearing Oriole-themed clothing.
    Then Kaczorowski got an e-mail from The National Funeral Directors Association. The professional group was looking for a story about funeral homes and unusual regarding sports fans. He was going to reply about the Orioles casket, but the e-mail got deleted.
    It appeared all was lost, but Kaczorowski got a call from a production person who was calling the major funeral homes in the Baltimore area looking for those bizarre stories. He called it a great coincidence.
    “I couldn’t believe she called out of the blue,” Kaczorowski said with a laugh. “Call it what you want, plain luck, or divine intervention, but I couldn’t believe it.”
    Next, Kaczorowski went to New York to shoot the commercial in the spring. The commercial started airing on Aug. 1 during ESPN programming and can be found on YouTube.
    There is also an eight-minute documentary that goes into more depth about Kaczorowski and other funeral director’s stories about sport fans and death.
    He admitted he was a little concerned about filming the commercial and didn’t want it to be in bad taste. He said the folks at ESPN were very good to work with.
    “I was concerned it was going to be a caricature. You never know how it goes when Hollywood gets a hold of something, but it was done well. It was done with a sensitivity,” Kaczorowski recalled.
    Overall, Kaczorowski had fun with his TV appearance.
    “I’m overwhelmed by the positive response from this. It was a little hectic and my anxiety levels were a little high,” Kaczorowski said. “[TV] isn’t what I do, but I’m surprised how well it went.”
    Kaczorowski said that another Oriole casket at his funeral home has been used, but warns Ravens fans that there is no casket with a Ravens design. He said the company that designs his caskets has a licensing agreement with Major League Baseball, NASCAR and the Southeastern Conference (SEC), but is not licensed by the NFL, NBA or NHL.
    “It’s not for everybody. It’s for the people who were dedicated fans,” Kaczorowski said.