Results tagged ‘ Cubs ’

1/27 Ernie and Hall of Fame


The Baseball Hall of Fame honored Ernie Banks with a wreath on his plaque in Cooperstown. You can also find a video tribute at the Hall’s website.

(Photo courtesy of Baseball Hall of Fame)

1/27 Maddon, Rizzo on MLB Network

Cubs manager Joe Maddon and first baseman Anthony Rizzo will be featured in “The Offseason: Hope in Chicago and Miami,” the third installment of MLB Network Presents on Tuesday at 8 p.m. CT.

The Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton also will be featured. Hosted by Bob Costas, the show offers exclusive profiles of three of the most talked-about names in Major League Baseball today as they face enormous expectations in the upcoming 2015 season.

The program begins with a behind-the-scenes look at Stanton’s daily life this offseason, following the signing of his record-setting $325 million contract with the Marlins in November 2014. Joined by MLB Network’s Peter Gammons, Stanton speaks in-depth about the traumatic injury that brought an early end to his 2014 season, and looks ahead to getting back on the field in 2015. Stanton also brings the cameras inside his rigorous workout routine as he goes through hitting drills and practice sessions in Southern California.

The episode continues with a trip to Chicago as Maddon brings MLB Network’s Tom Verducci inside his new life as the Cubs’ skipper at the annual Cubs Convention. Filmed last week in between interviews, autograph appearances, meetings and a coaches Q&A panel, Maddon discusses his decision-making process to leave the Rays and join the Cubs, and his methodology on managing. Maddon also addresses the heightened expectations in Chicago, including Rizzo’s recent comments about how the Cubs will win the NL Central division this season. Maddon’s response? “I totally agree with him that we can win the Central this year. No question in my mind.”

The hour-long show concludes with a look at the journey Rizzo has taken from battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2008 to becoming a first-time All-Star with the Cubs last season. Sitting down with MLB Network’s Lauren Shehadi at his home in Florida, Rizzo discusses the initial shock of being diagnosed with cancer and how he was able to persevere with the help of his family and the baseball community. Also included are interviews with Rizzo’s parents, John and Laurie, as well as Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, who discusses Rizzo’s character and the relationship he has with the first baseman, which began when Epstein, then-GM of the Boston Red Sox, drafted Rizzo in the sixth round of the 2007 MLB First-Year Player Draft.

Cubs pitcher and cancer survivor Jon Lester and Rizzo also detail the bond they share, beginning with their first-ever conversation at Fenway Park shortly after Rizzo’s cancer diagnosis, and continuing up to today, when they became teammates after Lester signed with the Cubs as a free agent in December.

MLB Network Presents is a series of documentaries and access-driven profiles on some of baseball’s most prominent personalities that will air on Tuesdays throughout the offseason on MLB Network.

– Carrie Muskat

1/26 Services for Ernie Banks

Public visitation and memorial services for Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, will be held Friday and Saturday at Fourth Presbyterian Church, the Cubs announced.

The public visitation will be from 12-8 p.m. CT at the church, located at 126 East Chestnut Street, Chicago. On Saturday, there will be limited public seating available for the memorial service, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. CT at the church.

Banks passed away last Friday after suffering a heart attack. He would’ve celebrated his 84th birthday this Saturday.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Banks’ memory to Cubs Charities, 1060 W. Addison Street, Chicago, IL 60613, or by visiting and clicking “Donate Now”.

There will be a public memorial for fans starting Wednesday at Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago. The bronze statue of Banks, which had been moved from Wrigley Field once renovation work began on the 100-year-old ballpark, will be installed at the outdoor plaza until Saturday. Banks, who played his entire career with the Cubs from 1953-71, was the first player in franchise history to be honored with a statue at Wrigley in 2008.

– Carrie Muskat

1/26 Salutes to Mr. Cub

Just in case you missed it, some current Cubs, future Cubs and past Cubs shared their feelings about Ernie Banks on Twitter:

* Anthony Rizzo:

“Mr Cub. What you have done for the game of baseball the city of Chicago and everyone you have touched will never be forgotten. RIP”

* Kris Bryant:

“RIP Mr. Cub. What he accomplished on and off the field is truly amazing. I’m honored ot wear the same uniform as him. #LetsPlayTwo”

* Joe Maddon:

“Never met Ernie, but heavily feel the loss … uniquely lived life … will always wish I had … my sympathies to the Banks family”

* Justin Grimm:

“R.I.P. Mr. Cub Ernie Banks! It was a pleasure to shake the hand of a Hall of Famer and a wonderful man to have around the clubhouse!”

* Darnell McDonald:

“Mr. Cub had the ability to instantly make you feel like a lifelong friend when you met. HOF person. #ThankYou #Salute”

* John Baker:

“Talk about star struck, try walking by [Banks’] statue on your way to work, then shaking the hand of the man. #MrCub”

* Sammy Sosa

“I wanted to express my sincere condolences to the family and fans of #mrcub, the legendary, #ErnieBanks. He was the first African-American to play for the Chicago Cubs paving the way for many future baseball players like myself. Rest in peace. #chicagocubs”

1/26 Winter league update

* Javier Baez was 2-for-4 with a double, one RBI, a walk and struck out once in Santurce’s 9-1 win over Mayaguez in the Puerto Rican league championship. Baez hit a RBI single in the second, and hit a double and scored a run in the eighth. He was intentionally walked in the ninth with one out and runners at second and third. Santurce now leads the best-of-seven series, 3-2. Game 6 was scheduled for Tuesday.

* Junior Lake went 2-for-4, hitting a two-run homer in the eighth, in Estrellas’ 12-5 loss to Gigantes in the Dominican Republic championship series.

1/25 Public memorial for Banks at Daley Plaza

Fans can pay their respects to Ernie Banks starting Wednesday at Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago. The Cubs and the city of Chicago announced that the bronze statue of Banks, which had been at Wrigley Field, will be installed in the downtown outdoor plaza from Wednesday morning until Saturday.

Banks passed away Friday at the age of 83.

The statue of Banks had been removed from Wrigley Field when renovation work began on the 100-year-old ballpark in October and was in storage in Michigan.

“Ernie Banks’ legacy extends far beyond his Hall of Fame stats,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “He was beloved by generations of people for the way he played on the field and -– more importantly -– for the kind and warm person he was off the field. We are bringing Ernie’s statue to Daley Plaza to honor not just one of the best ballplayers of all time, but a great man who made our city proud from the day we first met him in 1953.”

The Cubs also plan to celebrate Banks’ life in-season, and will announce details about that later. The Cubs players are expected to wear patches on their uniforms to honor the Hall of Famer, who would’ve celebrated his 84th birthday next Saturday. Banks died of a heart attack, attorney Mark Bogen said Sunday. Bogen spoke for Banks’ wife, Liz, at a news conference on Sunday.

“Ernie Banks was a wonderful husband, a great father and grandfather,” Bogen said, reading from a statement. “People have called Ernie Banks the ambassador of baseball, but in reality, he was the ambassador for humanity.”

Bogen noted that Banks “loved people and wanted to hear their stories, their lives, and not talk about his. Instead of talking about baseball, he would talk about life.”

Bogen said Banks was a chaplain and had presided over pitcher Sean Marshall’s wedding. Banks also cared about the troops and participated in USO programs, advocated for a float in the Chicago Gay Rights parade, and worked with Special Olympics.

“Ernie Banks was a kind, loving, positive man who cared about people,” Bogen said. “One of his favorite quotes was, ‘Life is a song, sing it. Life is a game, play it. Life is a challenge, meet it. Life is a dream, realize it. Life is a sacrifice, offer it. Life is love, enjoy it now.”

The Banks family has created a Facebook page called “Ernie Banks Remembered” for fans to celebrate his life.

Funeral arrangements were being finalized, Bogen said.

– Carrie Muskat

1/25 Maddon: “I want to see him smile”

Cubs manager Joe Maddon was in Puerto Rico this weekend to watch Javier Baez play in the championship series with Santurce. What was he looking for? Maddon told the young infielder he wanted to “see him smile.”

“My purpose is to see Javier Baez play,” Maddon told El Nuevo Dia on Saturday. “Being a new member of the Cubs organiation, being the manager and Javier being such a big part of our future, I thought it was important to come down and show support and start building that kind of relationship so he could trust me, also. From my perspective, the most important thing I have to do in Spring Training is earn the trust of all of our players.”

Baez, who batted .169 in 52 games with the Cubs last season, hitting nine home runs but also striking out 95 times in 213 at-bats, started playing for Santurce on Dec. 11. In the round robin playoffs, he did deliver a walk-off RBI single in the 10th on Jan. 12, but in the first two championship games, he was 0-for-9 with six strikeouts.

“He’s trying way too hard,” Maddon said. “I want him to back off. The last thing I want him to do is try to impress me tonight. … I said, ‘Hit a couple singles and above all, I want to see you smile.'”

On Saturday, Baez went 1-for-4 and scored a run in Santurce’s 6-0 win over Mayaguez. The best-of-seven series is now tied at 2-2, and Game 5 was scheduled for Sunday at Hiram Bithorn Stadium.

Baez, 22, told El Nuevo Dia he was impressed that Maddon would come visit him in Puerto Rico. Maddon has talked to Santurce manager Eduardo Perez about Baez as well.

– Carrie Muskat

1/24 Winter league update

* Junior Lake was 1-for-2 with an RBI in Estrellas’ 2-1 win over Gigantes Saturday night in the Dominican championship series. Gigantes leads the best-of-nine game series, 4-3. Game 8 will be played Sunday.

* Cubs manager Joe Maddon was in Puerto Rico Saturday night to see Javier Baez go 1-for-4 and score a run in Santurce’s 6-0 win over Mayaguez in the Puerto Rican league championship series. The best-of-seven series is now tied at 2-2, and Game 5 is scheduled for Sunday.

1/24 Remembering Ernie

Some of Ernie Banks’ former Cubs teammates and a few other notable Cubs players were in Mesa, Ariz., on Saturday, taking part in Randy Hundley’s fantasy camp. Here is their reaction to Banks’ passing on Friday:

* Glenn Beckert
“To me it’s a tragic thing, really a tragic thing. I lost one of my best friends. You don’t realize how close you were to some of those old athletes until something like this happens. He was great to play with. He was my best hitting instructor. In 1965, I came up as a young kid and he was still at first base. You can’t imagine the impact. I played with him for seven years. This has hit me hard. It’s hard think about losing a friend like that.”

* Randy Hundley
“Ernie was terrific to play with. I remember the first year I joined the ballclub, Leo [Durocher] was the manager. He called a meeting and he got on Ernie, he told Ernie that every time the pitcher threw over to first base, he wanted Ernie to tag the guy even if he had been standing there for five minutes. And Ernie did it without complaining with every runner that got on first base.

“He was a wonderful person to play with. He and I used to talk a lot when we were on the plane. He’d come over and sit with me and we’d talk about the game.”

“It was sad to hear that he had passed last night. I was very sorry to hear that. … We lost a wonderful person. I saw him the last time during the last couple of months. We missed him very much at the Cubs Convention. I sure wish I had been able to see him then.”

* Gary Matthews Sr.
“I mean, obviously, without a doubt, the greatest player, if not recognized player, in Cubs history. You know, I just saw him recently and he really looked happy. He looked good. He had lost a lot of weight. He was a guy for me who really loved life. He lived his life like that. The Cubs family is going to miss him, without a doubt. Just in terms of being the first black player the Cubs had and the home runs he hit. A shortstop that went to first just shows you what a great player he was, but he’s not here anymore, period. All fans are going to miss him.”

* Bob Dernier
“For me, if there was a monarch, a King Cub, he certainly filled that role. The way he treated me was just golden. He gave me a joyful welcome and sort of a big brother hug. I thought a lot of Ernie. I think we all did. He’ll be sorely missed, but he’s up there with [Ron] Santo and Harry [Caray] and a variety of others. They’re welcoming him now. He was the ambassador of Cubs baseball, no doubt. I just go by my own experience and he always treated me very kindly. I feel badly for the guys who played with him. I can feel their sadness because I know how I would feel if and when I lose a teammate. Not if, when. That’s part of the gig. They have to have a heavy heart.”

* Ed Lynch
“There are certain players who define an organization. For the San Francisco Giants, it’s Willie Mays. For the New York Mets, it’s Tom Seaver. I think Ernie Banks was that kind of player. He defined the Chicago Cubs. During the lean years of the 1950s he was the one bright spot for the fans. And he transitioned into the very good teams they had in the late ‘60s. From my experience being in Chicago as a player and a general manager I don’t think there was any more beloved player than Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks. Just the name itself was indicative of the high regard in which he’s held by the fans, the city and the organization.

“I knew him well. We didn’t socialize or anything, but he knew that as the general manager, I was trying to make the club better and he was all for that. One thing about those guys –- Ernie, Ron Santo, Billy Williams, Randy Hundley, Glenn Beckert –- all those guys legitimately rooted for the Cubs. They wanted the Cubs to win. And you felt that. You felt that support from all those guys and Ernie was one of them.

“It’s a huge loss, not only for the organization, but for the city and for baseball. You know, this guy wasn’t too far removed from Jackie Robinson. He was only six years removed. It wasn’t exactly a picnic for Larry Doby and Roy Campanella and that whole group that came in the 1960s. It was a still a pretty tough environment to not only work, but to succeed. And they succeeded. These were the type of people who encompassed what America was all about and that’s why he received the Medal of Freedom from President Obama because he deserved it. He blazed the trail. They were out there alone. They did it alone. I have the utmost respect for the players of that era who did it alone. They were the true trail blazers and Ernie was certainly one of those guys.”

Reported by’s Barry Bloom in Mesa, Ariz.

1/24 Ernie and Wrigley Field

In an interview with Ernie Banks for my book, “Banks to Sandberg to Grace,” the Cubs legend told me a story about how a nurse at a health spa in Tucson, Ariz., asked him for a favor. Here’s Ernie telling the story:

“[She said] ‘My grandfather was a longtime Cub fan and before he died, he wanted his ashes spread at Wrigley Field. Do they do that there?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know but I’ll let you know before I leave.’

“So I called, and they said, ‘Well, Ernie, we get a lot of requests from people who want to do that. We don’t publicize it because we don’t want to make it sound like a cemetery.’

“I know we haven’t played well but it’s not a cemetery, so I told [the nurse] that. She said, ‘OK, but I really wanted it to happen.’

“So now, I want it to happen to me. I want my ashes to be spread over Wrigley Field with the wind blowing out.”


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