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Ernest "Ernie" Banks (born January 31, 1931 in Dallas, Texasmarker) is an Americanmarker former Major League baseball player who played his entire career with the Chicago Cubs (1953–1971). He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Famemarker in 1977.

Banks's nickname is Mr. Cub.

High school years

Banks was a letterman and standout in football, basketball, and track.

Playing career

Banks signed with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League in and broke into the Major Leagues in with the Chicago Cubs as their first black player. He played for the Cubs his entire career, starting at shortstop and moving to first base in .

Initially Banks' double play partner was Gene Baker, the second black player on the Cubs, and Banks' roommate on road trips. When Steve Bilko would play first base, Cubs' announcer and home-town rooter Bert Wilson would refer to the Banks-Baker-Bilko double play combination as "Bingo to Bango to Bilko". This combination would not last quite as long as "Tinker to Evers to Chance", but Banks would become a Cubs institution.

Banks wore number 14 as a Cub, and is the first of only six Cubs players who have had their number retired by the organization. The number was originally worn by Guy Bush in 1932, the first year the Cubs wore numbers on their jerseys.

Banks was known for his catch phrase of, "It's a beautiful day for a ballgame... Let's play two!", expressing his wish to play a doubleheader every day out of his pure love for the game of baseball, especially in his self-described "friendly confines of Wrigley Fieldmarker." In , he set the record for grand slams in a single season with five, a record that stood for over thirty years.

Banks won the National League Most Valuable Player Award twice, in and despite the fact that the Cubs were not pennant contenders during those seasons.He became the first shortstop in the history of the National League to win the MVP award in back to back seasons. Jimmy Dykes reportedly remarked that, "Without him, the Cubs would finish in Albuquerquemarker!"

On September 2, 1965, Banks hit his 400th home run, and five years later, on May 12, 1970 at Chicagomarker's Wrigley Fieldmarker, hit his 500th home run. Banks finished his career with 512 home runs, and his 277 homers as a shortstop were the most ever at the time of his retirement. (Cal Ripken, Jr now holds the record for most homers as a shortstop with 345.) Ernie Banks also currently holds the record for most extra base hits by a Cub with 1,009. Banks also holds the team's records for games played (2,528), at-bats (9,421) and total bases (4,706).

Coaching career

Ernie Banks, "Mr Cub," bronze statue at Wrigley Field
On December 1, 1971, Banks retired as a player, and the Cubs signed him as a coach.

On May 8, 1973, Cubs manager Whitey Lockman was ejected in the 11th inning of a game against the San Diego Padres. Coach Ernie Banks filled in as manager for the remainder of the game, which the Cubs won 3-2 in 12 innings. Thus, he was technically, if not officially, MLB's first black manager, predating Frank Robinson's hiring by almost two years.

Honors

Banks is regarded as one of the most popular baseball players in Chicago sports history. He was a constant promoter of the Cubs and of daytime play at Wrigley Field. His popularity and positive attitude led to the nicknames "Mr. Cub" and "Mr. Sunshine."

In 1982, his uniform number 14 became the first to be retired by the Cubs. It had already been unofficially retired for nearly 9 years, because it was not assigned to anyone else after Banks' retirement from coaching.

In , in his first year of eligibility, Banks was elected to the Baseball Hall of Famemarker. The beginning of Banks' induction speech that August 8 leads off the Baseball's Greatest Hits Vol. II CD. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn is heard presenting Banks, who says, "Thank you very much, Commissioner, for the fine introduction. We've got the setting - sunshine, fresh air; we've got the team behind us [past inductees seated behind the podium]; so . . . Let's play two!"

In , he ranked Number 38 on The Sporting News list of Baseball's Greatest Players, and was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

On March 31, 2008, a statue of Banks was unveiled outside Wrigley Fieldmarker. Upon its unveiling, the base of the statue was revealed to contain a typographical error, reading "Lets play two" rather than the grammatically correct "Let's play two." Two days later, sculptor Lou Cella came down to the ballpark early in the morning and carved the apostrophe.

Other

During Banks' career, the Cubs were rarely in contention despite his brilliance. They failed to finish in the first division every season until late in his career. Consequently, Banks holds the Major League record of most games played without a postseason appearance (2528).

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Banks operated the Ernie Banks Ford car dealership on Stony Island Avenue in Chicagomarker.

Ernie Banks made a guest appearance in the eighth season episode "Dancing with Weezie" of the sitcom Married... with Children, appearing in a new sports bar in Chicago.

In June 2006, Crain's Chicago Business reported that Ernie Banks was part of a group looking into buying the Chicago Cubs, in case the Tribune Company decided to sell the club.

Ernie Banks established his own charity, the Live Above & Beyond Foundation, to eliminate prejudice, support programs that enhance neighborhoods and relieve discrimination among various age groups and races. In 2008, Banks released a charity wine called Ernie Banks 512 Chardonnay, a nod to his 512 career home runs, with all of his proceeds donated to his foundation.

Banks is the great-uncle of Atlanta Hawks point guard Acie Law IV. and the uncle of former major league catcher Bob Johnson. He is also the second cousin of O.J. Simpson.

Despite his advancing age, in late 2008 Banks and his wife adopted a daughter. He currently lives in the Los Angelesmarker area.

Years led league by statistical category



See also



References

  1. Great Baseball Feats, Facts and Figures, 2008 Edition, p.152, David Nemec and Scott Flatow, A Signet Book, Penguin Group, New York, NY, ISBN 978-0-451-22363-0
  2. " Ernie Banks", The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
  3. Ripken: Records and Achievements. - SportingNews.com
  4. Strahler, Steven. - "Ernie Banks Eyes Bid for Chicago Cubs". - Crain's Chicago Business. - June 9, 2006
  5. Acie Law Bio. - NBA


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