By Artie Cole
LAKE FOREST, IL — One-hundred-and-six-year-old Willie Abrams has wanted one thing more than anything else in his long life: to see his beloved Chicago Cubs win Major League Baseball’s World Series before he dies.
Born December 12, 1908, the Lake Forest resident and life-long fan was still in his mother’s womb the last time the Cubs won the Fall Classic.
Now old, frail and unable to walk, Abrams is mostly confined to his bed at the Lake Forest Place retirement community where he lives. But that hasn’t kept the former season ticketholder’s heart away from the Friendly Confines.
Abrams’ eldest daughter, 85-year-old Martha Shielding, visits him daily to tune her father’s television to WGN. It’s a short trip for the relatively young retired schoolteacher — she recently moved into an assisted living apartment across the courtyard.
According to Abrams family lore, Willie swore to his younger brother Robert that he’d live to see the Cubs become World Series champions one night nearly 50 years ago after a few too many beers. That was in 1966, the year the Cubs tied their worst franchise record.
“Uncle Bob took a job in New York in the early 70s, became a Yankees fan, and died happy a long time ago,” recalls Shielding, whose children and grandchildren plan on joining her to watch tonight’s National League wild card game with the family’s patriarch. “I hope my father will get that kind of peace.”
“To be honest, part of him died in 1969, another part in 1984, 1989, and who could forget 2003?” she added. “I swear this team is killing my father — in the slowest and most painful way imaginable.”