Nicknamed "Mr. Cub", the hugely popular Ernie Banks played shortstop and first base for the Chicago Cubs over 19 seasons. Originally signing with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League in 1950, Banks would break into the Majors for the Cubs in 1953. He would go on to become the first shortstop to win the National League MVP award in consecutive seasons. Finishing his career with a whopping 512 homers, Banks would be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977, his first year on the ballot.
I created this sketch card in December 2012.
10 Random Facts about Ernie Banks
- When Banks broke into the Majors in 1950, he became the Cubs' first African American player.
- In 1955, he set the record for grand slams in a single season with 5, a record that stood for over thirty years.
- Banks' career 277 homers as a shortstop were the most ever recorded until Cal Ripken Jr. eventually surpassed this mark.
- Banks holds Cubs records for games played (2,528), at-bats (9,421), extra-base hits (1,009), and total bases (4,706).
- On May 8, 1973, Cubs manager Whitey Lockman was ejected in the 11th inning of a game against the San Diego Padres. A member of the team's coaching staff, Banks filled in as manager for the remainder of the game, which the Cubs won 3–2 in 12 innings. Thus, he was technically, if not officially, MLB's first black manager, predating Frank Robinson's hiring by almost two years.
- Banks was known for his catchphrase of, "It's a beautiful day for a ballgame... Let's play two!", expressing his wish to play a doubleheader every day out of his pure love for the game of baseball, especially in his self-described "friendly confines of Wrigley Field."
- In 1982, his uniform number 14 became the first to be retired by the Cubs.
- On March 31, 2008, a statue of Banks was unveiled outside Wrigley Field. Upon its unveiling, the base of the statue was revealed to contain a typographical error, reading "Lets play two" rather than the grammatically correct "Let's play two". Two days later, sculptor Lou Cella came down to the ballpark early in the morning and carved the apostrophe.
- During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Banks operated the Ernie Banks Ford car dealership on Stony Island Avenue in Chicago.
- In 2008, Banks released a charity wine called Ernie Banks 512 Chardonnay, a nod to his 512 career home runs, with all of his proceeds donated to his foundation, the Live Above & Beyond Foundation.