While Wednesday night’s Game 7 of the World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians was a huge sporting event for millions of baseball fans, it was a far more personal affair for one North Carolina man.
“I talked it out with my boys forever. I let them know that I told my dad – we had a pact,” Wayne Williams told WTHR-TV in Indianapolis. “When the Cubs – not if, when – the Cubs got into the World Series, we would make sure we listen to the games together.”
So that’s exactly what Williams did on Wednesday, driving nearly 1,000 km from his home in North Carolina to the Greenwood Forest Lawn Cemetery in Indiana.
With nothing more than his phone, a lawn chair, a flash light and a flag bearing a large “W,” Williams listened to the final game of the Fall Classic next to the grave of his father, Wayne Williams Sr.
“Got a W flag. Not supposed to fly until after the actual win,” Williams joked with a news camera from WTHR-TV, which followed him for much of his emotional journey.
The elder Wayne Williams was a U.S. Navy veteran who served in the Second World War – and who became a Cubs fan during basic training.
“World War II, [my father] was a signalman. He was at Normandy, D-Day +8. He had not turned 18 yet,” Williams said. “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.”
Wayne Williams Sr. died in 1980, at the age of 53. He never got to see the Cubs in the World Series again after 1945 – but made a pact with his son that if they ever made it back, they’d watch or listen to the game together.
So on a quiet patch of grass next to a simple grave marker, Williams listened as the Cubs clawed their way to a thrilling, 8-7 victory over the Cleveland Indians in extra innings.
Afterwards, the cameraman asked Williams if he thought his father was there with him, celebrating the win.
“Knowing him, no,” Williams joked, before suggesting he’d already be partying in the afterlife. “He was a hell raiser, baby. He was a hell raiser.”