The Cubs win: Why my dad would tell you it was worth the wait

The Cubs win: Why my dad would tell you it was worth the wait
Source: Rick Karle
Source: Rick Karle

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The following is a commentary blog from WBRC FOX6 Sports Director Rick Karle:

As I grew, I often grew impatient. That was perfectly normal for a kid, right? After all, what kid doesn't want it in the moment?

Yet as I grew, there my father stood, tossing those words of advice my way: "Good things come to those who wait," he would say.

Rolling my eyes, I would simply shrug it off. That was until months after my dad turned 77, when his lifelong nightmare turned into his sweet dream: The Boston Red Sox won the World Series.

It's something Chicago Cubs fans never thought they'd see, as a championship has arrived after 108 years of futility. Today, Cubs fans throughout the world are pondering whether to smile or cry.

Fans like Jerry Pritikin, whose father took him to his first Cubs game in 1945. Like the old man who put a can of beer in his refrigerator 32 years ago and promised not to drink it until the Cubs won the World Series.

And like Wayne Williams, who drove from North Carolina to Indianapolis to listen to the World Series on the radio with his father.

The catch? His dad died in 1980, so Wayne sat at his father's grave marker with a radio and a flashlight as the Cubs finally reached the promised land.

Like so many fans who have taken joy in seeing their parents finally overcome with emotion -- over baseball -- I'm here to tell you that I'm one of those kids. And man, what a long wait it was.

It was Oct. 25, 1986. As my father sat next to me, his his eyes to began water.

You see, it had been 68 years since his beloved Red Sox had won the World Series, and seeing how he was 59 at the time, this was about to be a first in his life.

The Red Sox were leading the New York Mets late in Game 6 of the Fall Classic, and I can still hear his words as we sat in my condo in Jacksonville, FL.

"Rick, I've waited all my life for this, and it's about to happen," he said.

It sure was, as the Red Sox led the Mets 5-3 in the bottom of the tenth inning. The Bosox were about to win it all.

But then, it happened: Buckner!

Somehow the Mets tied the game at 5, and in the bottom of the 10th inning, my dad's heart sank as Mookie Wilson's grounder rolled under the legs of Boston first baseman Bill Buckner.

Ray Knight scored, the Mets won the game 6-5 and tied the series at three games apiece.

Not a sound was heard between the two of us for some time, as we somehow knew that the Mets would win Game 7 two nights later. (How did we know? We were Red Sox fans.)

I must admit, the thought overwhelmed me: He had yet to arrive at the age of 60, yet I wondered if my dad would ever see the Red Sox win a World Series in his lifetime.

He had lived through so much Red Sox futility: Johnny Pesky in 1946 ... Close but no cigar in 1967 and 1975 ... and that danged Bucky Dent in 1978.

Would joy ever come?

Good things come to those who wait, and man, did my father wait. Eighteen years after "Buckner," the Red Sox won it all in dramatic fashion.

The Bosox came back to beat the Evil Empire in the ALCS, then beat the Cardinals in the World Series.

At the age of 77, my father's dream had come true -- and it arrived again three years later when my dad turned 80.

My father died a little over three years ago at the age of 86.

As his end neared, the two of us laid on his bed. We had the place to ourselves, as my mom was at a rehab center after breaking her hip.

While he felt miserable, my dad perked up when I grabbed my iPhone and searched Google for Red Sox trivia.

For 20 minutes or so I tossed dozens of questions his way and yes, he answered nearly every one of them correctly. For that short time, a new energy consumed him.

It was a time with my dad that I'll never forget, for a day later he was gone. Gone to a better place, knowing that his Red Sox had made his wait worthwhile, winning it all not once, but twice (he died four months before the Red Sox won another title in 2013).

As I watch Cubs fans celebrate over the next several days, I will be so happy for all of them. They waited, they persevered through some miserable times, and at last, their time has come.

It may have been 108 years, but Cubs fans have been reminded that good things come to those who wait. I offer my congrats to Cubs fans everywhere.

And my dad? I would guess that he's shedding some happy tears for all of them.

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