Ernie Banks

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Ernie Banks in 2009.

Ernest "Ernie" Banks (born January 31, 1931 in Dallas, Texas) is a former Major League Baseball player. He was a shortstop and a first baseman. He spent his entire 19-year career with the Chicago Cubs of the National League (1953–1971). He hit 512 home runs in his career. Very few players have hit more than 500 home runs in their careers. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977. He was known as "Mr. Cub".[1]

High school years[change | change source]

Banks went to Booker T. Washington High School in Dallas, Texas. He was a very good athlete. He won "letters" in football, basketball and track. He graduated in 1950.[2]

Baseball career[change | change source]

Retired number at Wrigley Field

Banks signed with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League in 1950. He broke into the Major Leagues in 1953 with the Chicago Cubs. He was their first black player. He played for the Cubs his entire career. He started at shortstop, then moved to first base in 1962.[1]

In 1955, he set the record for grand slam home runs in a single season with five. That record stood for over thirty years.[3]

Banks won the National League Most Valuable Player Award twice, in 1958 and 1959. He became the first shortstop in the history of the National League to win the MVP award in back to back seasons.[4]

On May 12, 1970, at Chicago's Wrigley Field, Banks hit his 500th career home run.[5] 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.[6]) Banks holds Cubs records for games played (2,528), at-bats (9,421), extra-base hits (1,009), and total bases (4,706).[7]

During Banks' career, the Cubs as a team often played poorly. They started to play better late in his career, but they never got into the playoffs. Banks holds the Major League record for most games played without a playoff appearance (2,528).[8]

Coaching career[change | change source]

Ernie Banks, "Mr Cub," bronze statue at Wrigley Field

In 1977 Banks was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The beginning of Banks' speech that August 8 can be heard on a CD called Baseball's Greatest Hits Vol. II. Commissioner of Baseball Bowie Kuhn presents Banks, who then 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 so . . . 'Let's play two!"

Banks had worn number 14 on his Cubs uniform. In 1982 he became the first Cubs players whose number was retired by the team.[7]

On March 31, 2008, a statue of Banks was put outside Wrigley Field. The base of the statue repeats his famous saying, "Lets play two!" [9]

References[change | change source]

Other websites[change | change source]