*Ernie Banks also known as “Mr. Cub” has died, according to a statement from the Chicago Cubs. He was at 83. As of this posting, the cause of death has not been released.
“Words cannot express how important Ernie Banks will always be to the Chicago Cubs, the city of Chicago and Major League Baseball. He was one of the greatest players of all time,” Tom Ricketts, chairman of the Cubs, said in a statement released by the team. “He was a pioneer in the major leagues. And more importantly, he was the warmest and most sincere person I’ve ever known.
“Approachable, ever optimistic and kind hearted, Ernie Banks is and always will be Mr. Cub. My family and I grieve the loss of such a great and good-hearted man, but we look forward to celebrating Ernie’s life in the days ahead.”
Banks was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor awarded to civilians in the United States, by President Barack Obama in 2013.
From the Ernie Banks Wikipedia page:
Ernest “Ernie” Banks (January 31, 1931 – January 23, 2015), nicknamed “Mr. Cub” and “Mr. Sunshine,” was a Major League Baseball (MLB) shortstop and first baseman for 19 seasons, 1953 through 1971. He spent his entire MLB career with the Chicago Cubs. He was a National League (NL) All-Star for 11 seasons, playing in 14 All-Star Games.
Banks was born and raised in Dallas. He entered Negro league baseball in 1950, playing for the Kansas City Monarchs. He served in the military for two years and returned to the Monarchs before beginning his major league career in September 1953. He made his first MLB All-Star Game appearance in 1955. Banks had his best seasons in 1958 and 1959, when he received back-to-back National League Most Valuable Player awards. In 1958, he hit .313 and led the NL with 47 home runs (HR) and 129 runs batted in (RBI). In 1959, he hit .304 with 45 HRs and led the NL with 143 RBIs.
During the 1961 season, Banks was transferred to left field followed by a final position change to first base. Cubs manager Leo Durocher became frustrated with Banks in the mid-1960s, saying that the slugger’s performance was faltering, but he felt that he was unable to remove Banks from the lineup due to the star’s popularity among Cubs fans. Banks was a player-coach from 1967 through 1971. In 1970, he hit his 500th career home run. In 1972, he joined the Cubs coaching staff after his retirement as a player.
Banks was active in the Chicago community during and after his tenure with the Cubs. He founded a charitable organization, became the first black Ford Motor Company dealer in the United States, and made an unsuccessful bid for a local political office. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977. In 1999, he was named to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. In 2013, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contribution to sports. Banks lived in the Los Angeles area.
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