When the Chicago Cubs got the final out for their first World Series title in more than a century, they helped Wayne Williams keep a promise to his father that was 36 years in the making.
The die-hard Cubs fan left his North Carolina home on Wednesday morning and drove 650 miles to his father's grave in Greenwood, Indiana. He then sat graveside with a portable radio and a flashlight and listened to night's epic Game 7 win over the Cleveland Indians.
Williams' dad, also named Wayne, died from kidney cancer at 53 in 1980.
"I talked it out with my boys forever,'' Williams, 68, told NBC affiliate WTHR, which accompanied him to the gravesite. "I let them know that I told my dad — we had a pact. When the Cubs — not if, when — the Cubs got into the World Series, we would make sure we listen to the games together."
The elder Williams was a Navy veteran who served in World War II and went to boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois, where his son believes he first became a Cubs fan.
In 1969, he endured the heartbreak of a late-season collapse when the Cubs were overtaken by the New York Mets, who went on to win their first World Series title.
For the rest of the elder Wayne's life, the Cubs mostly occupied the role of lovable losers, often finishing near the bottom of the standings. This year marked Chicago's first World Series appearance since 1945 and its first title in 108 years.
"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,''' Williams joked. "We're going to be .500.'"
Williams' mother is 91 and lives in Minnesota. He planned to tell her about his trip to see his father.
"She’s very unsentimental, and she’ll say something like, ‘You’re an idiot,''' he told the Raleigh News & Observer.
Once third baseman Kris Bryant scooped up a grounder and threw it to first baseman Anthony Rizzo for the final out, Williams draped the flag on his father's grave — for the sweetest 'W' of them all.
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