RIP Papa, This One's For You
The memorial wall. Photo by Lauren Comitor/The Athletic
When the Cubs pulled out their first World Series win in 108 years, Chicago native Wayne Williams kept his side of a decades-old deal with his father: He drove over 650 miles from his home in North Carolina to Wayne Sr.'s grave in Greenwood, Indiana to watch and quietly celebrate the victory together, just like they always said they would. Wayne Williams Sr., a World War ll Navy veteran, died from cancer in 1980 at 55. For years before, says his son, "We had a pact. When the Cubs - not if, when - got into the World Series, we would make sure we listen to the games together." After the longed-for win, Wayne Jr. placed the "W" flag he'd brought next to the grave with a soft, "We did it."
He was one of many Cubs fans who marked the emotional win by honoring those who didn't live to see it. Before the game, scores of fans turned up to inscribe hopeful well wishes - chalk was available - on the brick right field wall of Wrigley Field. After the game, even more gathered to create an ad hoc memorial to those who'd kept the obstinate faith, writing the wistful names of grandparents or parents who'd begun taking them to see their beloved (if cursed) Cubs a generation before, but hadn't lived to see their final and infinitely sweet reward. "My parents are gone," said one longtime fan. "But they're here."
Williams at his father's grave. Photo by WTHR