Posted 7 years ago
I grew up on baseball as a Cubs fan. Visits to Wrigley field were special especially when watching games on crisp sunny afternoons from the stadium’s famous bleachers. (Wrigley didn’t have lights back then.) Nearly fifteen years ago, as my son was discovering baseball cards, he asked me about my favorite player. “Ernie Banks” was my immediate reply ... as I recall, it was more of a reflex response than anything.
Sadly Ernie Banks, two-time National League MVP, Hall of Famer and winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom passed away last week at the age of 83.
“Mr. Cub” was a rare baseball icon known for his optimism, playing with a smile on his face and saying “Let’s Play Two!” His Hall of Fame career started in the Negro leagues and in 1953 he joined the Cubs as their first colored player just six years after Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s colored barrier. His NL MVP status is somewhat ironic given that the Cubs have a pretty dismal record ... their last World Series win was in 1908. (Their last appearance was in 1945.)
Two years ago, while accompanying my son to the National Sports Card Convention in Chicago, I finally met Mr. Cub as he signed autographs for my son (second picture). There was no pretentiousness ... friendliness simply radiated from the man. Later my son gave me the Topps card shown here. (Of course, the autographed cards stayed in his collection.)
In an article about Ernie Banks appearing in USA Today (January 29), Paul White wrote; “But being in Wrigley meant you looked for Ernie, as much a constant as the ivy on the outfield wall.”
Yep ... that sums it up.