Ernie Banks facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsErnie Banks
Banks receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 2013
|Shortstop / First baseman|
January 31, 1931|
|Died: January 23, 2015
|September 17, 1953, for the Chicago Cubs|
|September 26, 1971, for the Chicago Cubs|
|Runs batted in||1,636|
Major League Baseball
|Career highlights and awards|
|Member of the National|
|Baseball Hall of Fame|
|Vote||83.8% (first ballot)|
|class="borderless" style="width:100%; background-color: #f9f9f9; color: #000000;"
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).
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.
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).
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!"
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.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
- Ernie Banks at the Baseball Hall of Fame
Images for kids
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