1/24 Ernie Banks home runs

Looking back at Ernie Banks career, here are some of his home run highlights:

* Of his 512 career home runs, Banks hit four walk-off blasts, 50 that tied the game, and 164 that gave the Cubs the lead.

* He homered off 216 pitchers. Robin Roberts served up the most (15), and Banks hit seven each off Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, and six off Warren Spahn.

* Banks hit 277 homers while playing shortstop, 210 as a first baseman.

* Of the total homers, 290 came at Wrigley Field.

* Banks’ first home run came Sept. 20, 1953, three days after his big league debut. He connected in the eighth off Gerry Staley in St. Louis. Home run No. 500 came May 12, 1970, off the Braves’ Pat Jarvis at WRigley Field in the second inning. Banks’ last homer was Aug. 24, 1971, also at Wrigley Field, when he connected off the Reds’ Jim McGlothlin in the fourth inning.

1/24 Obama on Mr. Cub

President Barack Obama, who had presented Ernie Banks with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November 2013, issued a statement Saturday regarding the passing of Mr. Cub. Banks died Friday at 83.

“Michelle and I send our condolences to the family of Ernie Banks, and to every Chicagoan and baseball fan who loved him,” Obama said in the statement.

“Ernie came up through the Negro Leagues, making $7 a day,” Obama said. “He became the first African-American to play for the Chicago Cubs, and the first number the team retired. Along the way, he became known as much for his 512 home runs and back-to-back National League MVPs as for his cheer, his optimism, and his love of the game.

“As a Hall-of-Famer, Ernie was an incredible ambassador for baseball, and for the city of Chicago,” Obama said. “He was beloved by baseball fans everywhere, including Michelle, who, when she was a girl, used to sit with her dad and watch him play on TV. And in 2013, it was my honor to present Ernie with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“Somewhere, the sun is shining, the air is fresh, his team’s behind him, and Mr. Class — “Mr. Cub” — is ready to play two.”

1/23 RIP, Mr. Cub

Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, passed away Friday. He was 83; Banks would’ve celebrated his birthday on Jan. 31.

“Words cannot express how important Ernie Banks will always be to the Chicago Cubs, the city of Chicago and Major League Baseball. He was one of the greatest players of all time,” said Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts. “He was a pioneer in the major leagues. And more importantly, he was the warmest and most sincere person I’ve ever known.

“Approachable, ever optimistic and kind-hearted, Ernie Banks is and always will be Mr. Cub. My family and I grieve the loss of such a great and good-hearted man, but we look forward to celebrating Ernie’s life in the days ahead.”

Banks did not attend the Cubs Convention last weekend because of poor health.

Inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1977, Banks played the game he loved as a lifelong Cub for 19 seasons. He made his debut with the club in 1953, and retired from the game in 1971. A 14-time All-Star, Banks won back-to-back National League Most Valuable Player awards in 1958 and 1959 when he hit 47 home runs with 129 RBI in 1958 and followed up with 45 home runs and 143 RBI in 1959.

Banks hit 512 home runs in his career, surpassing the 40-home run mark five times in his career, and his 277 home runs as a shortstop remain a National League record to this day.

Banks ranks first in games played (2,528), at-bats (9,421), extra-base hits (1,009) and total bases (4,706); second in home runs (512), RBI (1,636) and hits (2,583); third in doubles (407); fifth in runs scored (1,305); seventh in triples (90); and eighth in walks (763).

Starting while still as a player in 1967, he turned his eye to coaching and served in that role through 1973, becoming the first African American to manage a Major League team on May 8, 1973, when he took over for the ejected Whitey Lockman.

Banks became the first player in Cubs history to have his number retired in 1982. He was also voted to Major League Baseball’s All-Century Team and honored on the field at the All-Star Game in Fenway Park in 1999.

Beyond his statistics on the field, Banks was famous for his endearing charm and his remarkable wit. He became the first player in franchise history to be honored with a statue at Wrigley Field when he helped with the unveiling at Clark and Addison on March 31, 2008. His statue is adorned with his famous line, “Let’s Play Two.”

In 2013, Banks was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, an award given to those who have made an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

1/23 Cubs claim Germen

On Friday, the Cubs claimed right-handed pitcher Gonzalez Germen off waivers from the Rangers. He was designated for assignment by the Mets on Dec. 15 and traded to the Yankees four days later. Germen was then designated for assignment on Jan. 13 and traded to the Rangers on Tuesday.

With the move, the Cubs’ 40-man roster is now at 40.

Germen, 27, is 1-2 with one save and a 4.31 ERA in 54 relief appearances over the last two seasons with the Mets. He has struck out 64 batters over 64 2/3 innings pitched, and limited opponents to a .248 batting average, including a .229 mark by right-handed hitters. Last season, Germen appeared in 25 games for the Mets, compiling a 4.75 ERA. He missed a month because of a virus and abscess.

– Carrie Muskat

1/23 Dexter Fowler signs

The Cubs and newly-acquired center fielder Dexter Fowler reached an agreement for a one-year deal worth $9.5 million, thus avoiding arbitration. Fowler, 28, was acquired from the Astros Monday for pitcher Dan Straily and infielder Luis Valbuena. The outfielder made $7.35 million last season in Houston, where he hit .276 with four triples, eight home runs, 35 RBIs and scored 61 runs in 116 games.

1/22 Nichols named Scout of the Year


Ty Nichols, an area scout who handles Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota, was named the Cubs’ 2014 Scout of the Year during a team dinner Wednesday night in Chicago. From left to right, it’s Matt Dorey, director of amateur scouting; Nichols; Tim Wilken, special assistant to the president and general manager; and Jason McLeod, senior vice president, scouting and player development.

1/22 Winter league update

* Junior Lake hit a solo homer in the fifth in Estrellas’ 5-1 loss to Gigantes in the Dominican Republic playoffs. Gigantes now leads the best-of-nine series, 3-2. Game 6 will be Friday.

* Javier Baez went 0-for-5 in Santurce’s 3-2, 14-inning win over Mayaguez in the Puerto Rico championship series. Baez was intentionally walked in the 14th with two outs and two on to set up a walk-off walk. The best of seven series is tied at one win apiece, and Game 3 will be Friday.

* In Venezuela, Wilson Conteras and Rubi Silva were a combined 0-for-7 in Aragua’s 6-1 win over Zulia. Aragua (7-8) plays La Guaira (5-10) on Thursday.

1/21 Winter league updates

* Cubs prospect Wilson Contreras hit a two-run pinch-hit homer in a six-run fourth inning to lead Aragua to an 11-5 victory over La Guaira in the Venezuelan playoffs. Contreras went 2-for-3 in the game. He batted .242 in 80 games last season with Class A Daytona. Another Cubs prospect, Rubi Silva, was 2-for-4.

* Javy Baez was 0-for-4 in Santurce’s 8-2 loss to Mayaguez in the first game of the Puerto Rican championship series. Game 2 of the best-of-seven series will be played Wednesday.

* Junior Lake was 0-for-4 for Estrellas in a 5-3 loss to Gigantes in the Dominican league championship series. The best-of-nine series is tied at two wins apiece, and Game 5 will be played Wednesday.

Cubs 6-Packs and 12-Packs on sale today

The Cubs are offering 6-Game Packs and 12-Game Flex Packs, and they go on sale today (Wednesday, Jan. 21) at http://www.cubs.com/packs at 1 p.m. CT. The multi-game packages feature tickets for Opening Night vs. the Cardinals, summer Friday games, weekend bobblehead promotional games, and Family Sundays. The packages also include rivalry matchups with the White Sox and Cardinals, and Interleague matchups against the Indians, Tigers and Royals.

Cubs 6-Game Pack
The Cubs 6-Game Pack provides a choice of four different pre-selected, six-game plans. Each option is tailored to different fan interests. Options include the “Summer Six Pack,” featuring six Friday games from late May to early September; the “Family Day Pack,” featuring Sunday home games with promotional giveaways and opportunities for kids 13-and-under to run the bases post-game; the “Rivals Pack,” featuring matchups with the White Sox and NL Central Division foes; and the “Bobblehead Pack,” featuring weekend bobblehead promotional games.

Cubs 6-Game Packs are available in the reserved seating bowl of Wrigley Field. Fans must order the same number of tickets for each of the six games in their package. Prices start at just $128 before service fees and City and County amusement taxes for either a “Rivals Pack” or “Family Day Pack” in the Upper Deck Reserved Outfield, with other prices varying based on plan and location.

Cubs 12-Game Flex Pack
Fans looking to customize their ticket package can choose the Cubs 12-Game Flex Pack. This package allows fans to select from two Marquee games, such as Opening Night vs. the Cardinals or summer weekend dates vs. the White Sox, plus 10 additional games from each month throughout the season. Overall, fans can select from 49 total games when purchasing the Cubs 12-Game Flex Pack.

* Tickets may be purchased online through http://www.cubs.com/packs, by calling 1-800-THE-CUBS (1-800-843-2827), or by speaking with the Fan Services team at 773-388-8270.

1/20 Winter ball update

* Junior Lake was 1-for-4 with a triple, but it wasn’t enough as Estrellas lost, 4-0, to Gigantes in the third game of the best of nine championship series in the Dominican Republic. Estrellas leads the series, 2-1. Lake now is 1-for-7 in the series.

* Santurce faces Mayaguez in the Puerto Rican league championship, with the best of seven series beginning Tuesday. Javier Baez was expected to rejoin Santurce and play in this series.


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