USA Today is reporting that baseball legend Ernie “Mr. Cub” Banks has died. Banks was an 11-time All-Star, a first-ballot Hall of Famer and won consecutive National League MVP awards in 1958-59. Banks, a beloved figure in baseball and the city of Chicago played baseball for 19 years and continued to vigorously support the Cubs despite dismal performance years . He is known for the catchphrase “Lets Play Two” which signifies his love of the game. Why play one game, when you can play two?
Like many black American trailblazers in baseball, Banks began his career in the Negro Leagues with the Kansas City Monarchs. He also served in the military before being discovered by the Chicago Cubs where he played left field, short stop and eventually first base. Born and raised in Dallas, TX, Banks became a legend in Chicago based on his commitment to the same team for 19 years, community service and sparkling personality earning him the nickname “Mr. Sunshine.”
In 2013, Banks received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama, alongside former President Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and others. President Obama issued a statement about the game changer’s passing:
“Michelle and I send our condolences to the family of Ernie Banks, and to every Chicagoan and baseball fan who loved him,’ the Obamas said in a statement released early Saturday. ‘Ernie came up through the Negro Leagues, making $7 a day. 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. 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.
‘Somewhere, the sun is shining, the air is fresh, his team’s behind him, and Mr. Class – ‘Mr. Cub’ – is ready to play two.’”
Ernie Banks was 83.