Baseball has always been a common bond between fathers and sons. Wayne Williams grew up around Chicago, and has been a lifelong Cubs fan—just like his dad, Wayne Williams, Sr.
Despite the Cubs’ notorious losing streak and World Series drought, the elder Williams was always unflappable in his faith in the team.
“I’ll never forget one day he said, start of the season, I forget what year it was, ‘This is going to be our year. This is going to be our year. We’re going to be .500,’” his son recalled to WTHR.
“He was always unrealistic in some of his thinking,” Williams told the News & Observer.
“Hence a Cub fan.”
So when the Cubs finally had a shot at a World Series title last October—arguably the most anticipated game in modern baseball—Williams was as excited as anyone, and knew he had to watch it with his father.
The thing is, his father died in 1980. So he did the next best thing:
He listened to the game on the radio at his father’s grave.
The 68-year-old Cubs fanatic, now living in North Carolina, drove 650 miles to the cemetery in Greenwood, Indiana. He missed out on seeing the game in person or on TV, but it was worth it to fulfill a promise he made to his father years ago.
“My dad and I had kind of made a pact that when — not if — the Cubs made the World Series, we would watch the games together,” Williams told the News & Observer.
Like his father, he had little doubt of the Cubs victory that evening, and was even ready with the traditional “W” flag flown at Wrigley Field.
“Got a W flag. Not supposed to fly until after the actual win,” Williams explained to WTHR.
Williams Sr. was 53 when he died of kidney cancer. He was a Navy veteran, who was at Normandy in World War II. It was during his military career he picked up his love for the Cubs.
“I think it was because when he was at boot camp at Great Lakes. He probably went to some games, because Wrigley’s brought the guys out there for these things and it was the closest thing to big-time baseball he’d ever seen,” Williams said.
After his naval career, he stuck with the Cubs his whole life, through the few ups and many downs. His son joked that if the cancer hadn’t gotten him, the Cubs’ bad luck probably would’ve.
“’69 broke his heart,” he told WTHR. “If he hadn’t been dead already by ’83 , that would’ve done it for him.”
Williams sat at the gravesite and listened to the entire game on the radio through his phone, braving some harsh weather conditions.
But it was worth it. The Cubs, of course, won that game, breaking a 108-year streak without a World Series championship — Williams had fulfilled his promise to be there with his dad when it happened.
“I just kind of said `We did it,’ like I had anything to do with it,” he told ESPN.
“I know how much he would have enjoyed it.”
With the victory official, it was finally time to unfurl the “W” flag.
But as the world was stunned by the milestone victory, Williams says his dad would’ve been thrilled, but not surprised.
“He would have said, ‘I told ya, I told you they woulda won,’” he told The News & Observer.
And as for what the future holds, Williams shares his father’s optimism.