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Ernie Banks
14 Ernie Banks Medal of Freedom White House (cropped).jpg
Banks receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 2013
Shortstop / First baseman
Born: (1931-01-31)January 31, 1931
Dallas, Texas
Died: January 23, 2015(2015-01-23) (aged 83)
Chicago, Illinois
Batted: Right Threw: Right
debut
September 17, 1953, for the Chicago Cubs
Last appearance
September 26, 1971, for the Chicago Cubs
MLB statistics
Batting average .274
Hits 2,583
Home runs 512
Runs batted in 1,636
Teams

Negro leagues

  • Kansas City Monarchs (1951, 1953)

Major League Baseball

Career highlights and awards
  • 14× All-Star (1955–1960², 1961²–1962², 1965, 1967, 1969)
  • 2× NL MVP (1958, 1959)
  • Gold Glove Award (1960)
  • 2× NL home run leader (1958, 1960)
  • 2× NL RBI leader (1958, 1959)
  • Chicago Cubs No. 14 retired
  • Major League Baseball All-Century Team
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Induction 1977
Vote 83.8% (first ballot)
class="borderless" style="width:100%; background-color: #f9f9f9; color: #000000;"
Military career
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1951–1953
Rank Private first class
Battles/wars Korean War

Ernest "Ernie" Banks (January 31, 1931 – January 23, 2015) was a former Major League Baseball player. He was a shortstop and a first baseman. He spent his entire 19-year career with the Chicago Cubs of the National League (1953–1971).

He hit 512 home runs in his career. Very few players have hit more than 500 home runs in their careers. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977. He was known as "Mr. Cub".

In 2013, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

High school years

Banks was born in Dallas, Texas and went to Booker T. Washington High School in that city. He was a very good athlete. He won "letters" in football, basketball and track. He graduated in 1950.

Baseball career

Banks-Santo retired numbers
Retired number at Wrigley Field

Banks signed with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League in 1950. He broke into the Major Leagues in 1953 with the Chicago Cubs. He was their first black player. He played for the Cubs his entire career. He started at shortstop, then moved to first base in 1962.

In 1955, he set the record for grand slam home runs in a single season with five. That record stood for over thirty years.

Banks won the National League Most Valuable Player Award twice, in 1958 and 1959. He became the first shortstop in the history of the National League to win the MVP award in back to back seasons.

On May 12, 1970, at Chicago's Wrigley Field, Banks hit his 500th career home run. Banks finished his career with 512 home runs, and his 277 homers as a shortstop were the most ever at the time of his retirement. (Cal Ripken, Jr. now holds the record for most homers as a shortstop with 345.) Banks holds Cubs records for games played (2,528), at-bats (9,421), extra-base hits (1,009), and total bases (4,706).

During Banks' career, the Cubs as a team often played poorly. They started to play better late in his career, but they never got into the playoffs. Banks holds the Major League record for most games played without a playoff appearance (2,528).

Coaching career

In 1977 Banks was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The beginning of Banks' speech that August 8 can be heard on a CD called Baseball's Greatest Hits Vol. II. Commissioner of Baseball Bowie Kuhn presents Banks, who then says, "Thank you very much, Commissioner, for the fine introduction. We've got the setting - sunshine, fresh air; we've got the team behind us so . . . 'Let's play two!"

Banks had worn number 14 on his Cubs uniform. In 1982 he became the first Cubs players whose number was retired by the team.

On March 31, 2008, a statue of Banks was put outside Wrigley Field. The base of the statue repeats his famous saying, "Lets play two!"

Death

Banks died of a heart attack at a Chicago hospital on January 23, 2015, eight days before his 84th birthday. His death was announced by his lawyer in that same day. He was buried in Graceland Cemetery, just a few blocks north of Wrigley Field.



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