Fair warning, but this’ll probably make you cry.
The brick right field wall of Wrigley Field, facing Sheffield Avenue, has become a repository of names of the dead. What started off as a place for general well-wishes to the Cubs — someone helpfully left boxes of chalk out — gradually transformed into a remarkable memorial. Late into the night, people have been writing the names of Cubs fans who died before they got the chance to see their team win a World Series.
There was undeniably something romantic about the Cubs’ 108-year championship drought, the longest in American pro sports. It was an identity, and the wait made this title sweeter than perhaps any other. But that’s for those who could wait. Millions of Cubs fans lived and died without ever seeing a season end in anything but heartbreak.
Sports is about family, about passing something down to the next generation. In the case of Cubs fans, that something was necessarily hope.
Wayne Williams spent all day driving from his North Carolina home to a cemetery in Indiana where his father is buried. His dad died in 1980 — “If he hadn’t been dead in 1984, that would’ve done it for him,” Williams told WTHR — but they had an agreement before he went. If the Cubs ever made it to the World Series, they’d watch it together, father and son.
Setting up a folding chair by his father’s grave, Williams put on the radio and listened to the Cubs win the whole damn thing. And yes, he brought his “W” flag.
This experience, very specific to Cubs fans, has universal lessons. Enjoy your victories when you can, and share them with the people closest to you. You never know how many you’re going to get. We all think fondly of family and friends who have passed when enjoying something we know they would have enjoyed, and there’s something comforting about knowing that after we’re dead and gone, the teams we loved will carry on, and our loved ones will take a moment to note just how happy they made us in life.