As the winter dragged out uneventfully for the Cubs and it became clear that they were seeking small advantages, one of the leverage points they appeared to be using was the idea of a homecoming. They were linked to a number of pitchers who either had Chicago-area roots or had played for either the Cubs or Sox, eventually agreeing to deals with Jake Arrieta and Trevor Williams that rounded out the rotation.
Shortly after news of the Williams signing broke, Cubs fans learned that the pitcher’s father, Richard, was one of them. As he explained in a tweet, he grew up in Chicago and was in attendance when Ernie Banks hit No. 500 in 1970. He even worked as an usher at Wrigley for four summers.
I was born and raised in Chicago. Watched Ernie Banks hit is 500th HR in May of 1970. I worked 4 summers as an usher at Wrigley. This is a dream. Wake me up. This pic was at Wrigley in 2018. It was so cold that night. I am warm tonight. pic.twitter.com/kzpV7hWXAQ
— RICHARD WILLIAMS (@SDRICH7777) January 31, 2021
So with one son on the mound and two others next to him in the best seats he’s ever had at Wrigley — courtesy of Jason Heyward, more on that below — the elder Williams got to witness something he’d never allowed himself to imagine.
“Dreams come true,” Richard Williams told Taylor McGregor of Marquee Sports Network during the game. “I’m a Little League dad and dreams come true. They really, really do and today was a beautiful day.”
As for those tickets, it was a small but very meaningful gesture on the part of a man revered as one of the best teammates around. You may recall that Heyward footed the bill for David Ross to have a suite on the road throughout the 2016 season, his last as a player, as thanks for what the catcher had meant to Heyward during their time together in Atlanta and Chicago.
It’s probably too late to stop some dingleberry from joking about how those tickets are a pittance for someone who makes as much money as Heyward, but that’s missing the point entirely. The fact that he recognized the significance of the moment and provided the Williams family with an unforgettable experience is worth far more than any cost that would otherwise have been associated with it.
“Jason Heyward and his wife offered my family his tickets,” the former Pirate explained after earning the win. “I said, ‘I’m not getting you tickets, but the Heywards want to give you [their] tickets, is that OK?’ And he said, ‘Of course.’
“The consistency that [my father] has shown showing up to games is something that I don’t take for granted, ever. I’m just really thankful that my brothers were able to come out as well and see this. Just knowing that I’ve always got a fan — at least one fan — in the stands when I’m pitching, is something I cherish.”
That Williams looked as good as he ever has over his first six innings of work is neither surprising nor particularly important in light of the moment. But the fact that he was lights-out for the most part certainly enhanced the enjoyment and immediately ingratiated him to Cubs fans. We’ve been touting the righty here at CI since he was signed and our little bandwagon gained a few riders Monday night, so it was fun all the way around.
Though the Dodgers may have gotten a Cy Young, Chicago ended up with the better Trevor.