Ernie Banks

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Ernie Banks
14 Ernie Banks Medal of Freedom White House (cropped).jpg
Banks receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 2013
Shortstop / First baseman
Born: (1931-01-31)January 31, 1931
Dallas, Texas
Died: January 23, 2015(2015-01-23) (aged 83)
Chicago, Illinois
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 17, 1953, for the Chicago Cubs
Last MLB appearance
September 26, 1971, for the Chicago Cubs
MLB statistics
Batting average.274
Home runs512
Runs batted in1,636
Negro leagues

Major League Baseball

Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Vote83.8% (first ballot)
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service1951–1953
RankPrivate first class
Battles/warsKorean War

Ernest "Ernie" Banks (January 31, 1931 – January 23, 2015)[1] was 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".[2]

In 2013, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

High school years[change | change source]

Banks was born in Dallas, Texas and went to Booker T. Washington High School in that city. He was a very good athlete. He won "letters" in football, basketball and track. He graduated in 1950.[3]

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.[2]

In 1955, he set the record for grand slam home runs in a single season with five. That record stood for over thirty years.[4]

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.[5]

On May 12, 1970, at Chicago's Wrigley Field, Banks hit his 500th career home run.[6] 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.[7]) Banks holds Cubs records for games played (2,528), at-bats (9,421), extra-base hits (1,009), and total bases (4,706).[8]

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).[9]

Coaching career[change | change source]

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.[8]

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!" [10]

Death[change | change source]

Banks died of a heart attack at a Chicago hospital on January 23, 2015, eight days before his 84th birthday.[11] His death was announced by his lawyer in that same day.[1] He was buried in Graceland Cemetery, just a few blocks north of Wrigley Field.[12]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 'Mr. Cub' Ernie Banks dies at 83
  2. 2.0 2.1 "The Ballplayers - Ernie Banks Biography". Archived from the original on 2007-02-07. Retrieved 2008-07-23.
  3. "Fete for Banks Here Tuesday." The Dallas Morning News, 9 October 1955. Retrieved 2011-06-14.
  4. "Grand Slams Single Season Leaders by Baseball Almanac". Retrieved 2008-07-23.
  5. Nemec, David; Flatow, Scott (2008). Great Baseball Feats, Facts and Figures. New York, NY: Penguin Group. p. 152. ISBN 978-0-451-22363-0.
  6. "Ernie Banks Home Run Log (Batting)". Retrieved 2008-07-23.[permanent dead link]
  7. Ripken: Records and Achievements Archived 2005-02-27 at the Wayback Machine. -
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Cubs Retired Numbers". Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2008-07-23.
  9. "Most Games Played with no Post-Season Appearance". Retrieved 2008-07-23.
  10. "Banks statue gets a chip off new block". Chicago Tribune. 2008-04-03. Retrieved 22 April 2009.
  11. Gonzalez, Mark; Ziezulewicz, Geoff (January 25, 2015). "Cubs legend Ernie Banks died of heart attack". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 25, 2015.
  12. FOX. "'Mr. Cub' Ernie Banks laid to rest at Graceland Cemetery". Archived from the original on November 4, 2016. Retrieved November 7, 2016.

Other websites[change | change source]