Results tagged ‘ Ernie Banks ’

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.

9/20 Extra bases

* The Cubs have set the rotation for the upcoming series against the Cardinals, which opens Monday at Wrigley Field, and is the last home series of the season. Travis Wood will start Monday night in what will be his last start of this year. He’ll be followed by Kyle Hendricks on Tuesday and Jake Arrieta on Wednesday. Hendricks also will start the season finale Sept. 28 at Milwaukee. No word from Cubs camp about whether Edwin Jackson will make another start.

* Welington Castillo, who had to leave Friday’s game with a rib contusion, was available Saturday but the Cubs wanted to give him at least one more day to heal. John Baker got the start.

* On this day in Cubs history, Ernie Banks hit his first career home run in 1953 off St. Louis’ Gerry Staley. Thanks for Christopher Kamka for the post.

1/31 Happy birthday, Mr. Cub


Happy birthday to Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, who turns 83 today. He shares a birthday with Jackie Robinson.

12/2 Wrigley 100 book now available

Looking for a holiday gift for your favorite Cubs fan? Major League Baseball and the Cubs today unveiled “A Century of Wrigley Field: The Official History of the Friendly Confines,” a one-of-a-kind, official retrospective book featuring classic stories and rare archived images to commemorate the ballpark’s first 100 years. The book is available for pre-order beginning today on, and 200 advance copies are on sale now at the Cubs Store on the corner of Clark and Addison Streets with additional copies arriving on Dec. 12. The retail price is $50 and all orders must be placed by Dec. 19 to receive shipment by Dec. 24.

Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, wrote the forward for this book that details the life of “The Friendly Confines” and its unique history. The book includes tributes from Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett, Chicago native and hockey Hall of Famer Chris Chelios, Chicago football legend Mike Ditka, Cubs play-by-play commentators Pat Hughes and Len Kasper, and others. It also highlights Cubs Hall of Famers, including Andre Dawson, Ryne Sandberg, Billy Williams and the late Ron Santo.

11/25 A toast to Ernie

Ernie Banks received the Presidential Medal of Freedom last week, and you can celebrate the honor with Mr. Cub at a reception and toast on Dec. 3 in Chicago. Banks will be honored at the East Bank Club’s River View Room, 500 N. Kingsbury Street, Chicago, from 5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. CT next week. There will be music, food, cocktails and a champagne toast. Tickets are $300 each, and each purchase includes a bat autographed by the Hall of Famer. No tickets will be sold at the door, so you must purchase them in advance. There is VIP seating with a purchase of 10 tickets or more. To purchase a ticket for this celebration, go to, or call (312) 828-9711.

11/20 Mr. Cub receives Medal of Freedom


(Photo courtesy of Reuters)

11/20 Ernie honored

Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks was honored for his performance on the field and his optimistic approach to life Wednesday, receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in a ceremony at the White House. Banks, 82, was among 16 recipients, including President Bill Clinton, former astronaut Sally Ride, feminist Gloria Steinem, North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith, and media icon Oprah Winfrey.

Obama relayed the story of Banks’ enthusiastic pep talk to his Cubs teammates: “Let’s play two.”

“That’s Mr. Cub — the man who came up through the Negro Leagues, making $7 a day, and became the first black player to suit up for the Cubs and one of the greatest hitters of all time,” Obama said. “In the process, Ernie became known as much for his 512 home runs as for his cheer and his optimism, and his eternal faith that someday the Cubs would go all the way.”

There was some laughter in the room after that. The Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908.

“And that’s serious belief,” Obama said. “That is something that even a White Sox fan like me can respect. He is just a wonderful man and a great icon of my hometown.”

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest honor given to civilians in the United States, established in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy. It is presented 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.”

Banks joins a distinguished list of baseball players to receive the honor, including Hank Aaron (2002), Roberto Clemente (2003) Joe DiMaggio (1977), Stan Musial (2011), Buck O’Neil (2006), Frank Robinson (2005), Jackie Robinson (1984) and Ted Williams (1991).

Banks began his baseball career with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League in 1950, and was the first African-American player on the Cubs, making his Major League debut on Sept. 17, 1953, at the age of 22. He played 19 seasons with the Cubs and finished with a .274 batting average, 512 home runs, and 1,636 RBIs.

Although he never reached the postseason, Banks won back to back Most Valuable Player honors, was elected into the baseball Hall of Fame, had his No. 14 retired in 1982 by the Cubs, and is immortalized in a bronze statue outside Wrigley Field.

— Carrie Muskat

9/17 Mr. Cub


On Sept. 17, 1953, Ernie Banks made his ML debut for the Cubs.