Baseball legend Ernie Banks has passed away at the age of 83. Better known by the nickname Mr. Cub, Banks spent his entire hall of fame career with the Chicago Cubs, holding franchise records in extra base hits, games played, walks, sac flys, and comes in behind only Sammy Sosa in home runs.
Banks was a two-time MVP, earning the title for consecutive years in 1958 and 1959, and a 14-time All-Star, but it was his connection to the Cubs and his love for the game that carried his legacy into the modern era. From MLB:
After years of pelting Waveland Avenue with long balls, uttering “Let’s play two!” at every turn and later entertaining the faithful of Wrigley Field merely by his presence, the Hall of Fame slugger passed away at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
“Words cannot express how important Ernie Banks will always be to the Chicago Cubs, the city of Chicago and Major League Baseball,” Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said in a release. “He was one of the greatest players of all time. 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.”
I’m certainly too young to know much about Banks playing days, but you gain a lot when you grow up reading about baseball at every turn. To have a guy like Ernie Banks remain the face of your franchise for over 60 years and have them be able to do it with a smile up to their final days, that’s special. Not to mention Banks never participated in the postseason, something that probably would’ve soured a lot of players today.
Everyone’s end is certain at some point in life, but it doesn’t make it any easier when it happens. Losing a guy like Ernie Banks is tough, but he’s definitely a fine example of how to handle these moments. Keep positive and keep smiling. Let’s play two.