When Hall of Famer and Chicago Cubs legend Ernie Banks died Jan. 23, 2015 at 83, Chicago fans went into mourning for their beloved “Mr. Cub.” Below, read tributes to the great shortstop. As Ernie would say, “It’s a beautiful day for a ballgame… Let’s play two!”
Even as the Chicago Cubs lost one game after another, Ernie Banks never lost hope. That was the charm of “Mr. Cub.”
To the Banks Family,—Donald Wilkes, Santa Monica, California
I wanted to express my deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences to you on the passing of our beloved Ernie. I had the honor and privilege of meeting Ernie on a plane from LA to Chicago in 2010 and had the “gift”of spending 2 1/2 hours talking about life and baseball. I will never forget his introduction as we sat down next to each other…” It’s a beautiful day isn’t it?” He then asked my name and knew I was sitting next to a baseball legend and Hall of Famer…Ernie Banks; Mr. Cub…
Jim Marshall remembers the shortest scouting meeting Giants manager Alvin Dark ever had before a three-game series at Wrigley Field in 1961. “Just walk Ernie Banks four times, and we’ll win this series,” Marshall recalled Saturday. “He was a dear friend of mine, and I will miss him and his honesty.” And as far as Jerry Kindall is concerned, Banks more than held his own with those Hall of Fame players despite never advancing to the postseason.
“He missed last weekend’s Cubs Convention, and I wanted to do a well-being check on my longtime friend. Cub had passed, just more than a week shy of his 84th birthday. During Black History Month a couple of years ago, the Cubs invited Banks and me to speak to a group of high school students about our respective career paths.”
1953: Ernie Banks makes his Cubs debut Sept. He starts at shortstop and bats seventh, becoming the first African-American player in team history.
1954: On Aug. 22, Banks homers twice in a 12-6 loss to the Braves at Wrigley Field. This is his first multihomer game.
1955: On May 11, Banks homers to left-center off Brooklyn’s Russ Meyer for his first career grand slam.