is a retired professional baseball player. He played as a shortstop and first baseman in Major League Baseball (MLB) for 19 seasons on the National League's (NL) Chicago Cubs team, from 1953 through 1971. Banks was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977 and the Major League Baseball All-Century Team, in 1999.
Early lifeBanks was a letterman and standout in football, basketball, soccer and track at Booker T. Washington High School in Dallas, Texas, from which he graduated in 1950.
Playing careerBanks signed with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League in 1950 and broke into the Major Leagues in 1953 with the Chicago Cubs as their first black player.
Major League Baseball (Chicago Cubs, 1953-1971)He played for the Cubs his entire career, starting at shortstop and moving to first base in 1962. Initially Banks' double play partner was Gene Baker, the second black player on the Cubs, and Banks' roommate on road trips. Thus making Banks and Baker, the first all black double play combination in major league history. When Steve Bilko would play first base, Cubs' announcer and home-town rooter Bert Wilson would refer to the Banks-Baker-Bilko double play combination as "Bingo to Bango to Bilko". This combination would not last quite as long as "Tinker to Evers to Chance", but Banks would become a Cubs institution.
Banks wore number 14 as a Cub, and is the first of only six Cubs players who have had their number retired by the organization. The number was originally worn by Guy Bush in 1932, the first year the Cubs wore numbers on their jerseys.
Banks was known for his catchphrase of, "It's a beautiful day for a ballgame... Let's play two!", expressing his wish to play a doubleheader every day out of his pure love for the game of baseball, especially in the "friendly confines" (another of his catchphrases) of Wrigley Field. In 1955, he set the record for grand slams in a single season with five, a record that stood for over thirty years.
Banks won the National League Most Valuable Player Award twice, in 1958 and 1959 despite the fact that the Cubs were not pennant contenders during those seasons. He became the first shortstop in the history of the National League to win the MVP award in back to back seasons. Jimmy Dykes reportedly remarked that, "Without him, the Cubs would finish in Albuquerque!"
500 home run clubOn September 2, 1965, Banks hit his 400th home run. On May 12, 1970 at Chicago's Wrigley Field, he hit his 500th home run and became a member of the 500 home run club. 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).
From the late 1960s onward, Banks was hobbled by bad knees. However, his legendary status made it impossible for his final major-league manager, Leo Durocher, to keep him out of the lineup for any significant period of time.
On May 8, 1973, Cubs manager Whitey Lockman was ejected in the 11th inning of a game against the San Diego Padres. Banks filled in as manager for the remainder of the game, which the Cubs won 3–2 in 12 innings. Thus, he was technically, if not officially, MLB's first black manager, predating Frank Robinson's hiring by almost two years.
Awards & honors
|Ernie Banks's number 14 was retired by the Chicago Cubs in 1982.|
Hall of FameIn 1977, in his first year of eligibility, Banks was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The beginning of Banks' induction speech that August 8 leads off the Baseball's Greatest Hits, Vol. II, CD. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn is heard presenting Banks, who 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!"
In 1982, his Chicago Cubs uniform Number 14 became the first to be retired by the Cubs.
The 1990 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was dedicated to Banks. He threw out the ceremonial first pitch to starting catcher Mike Scioscia.
In 1996, he received the Chicago History Museum "Making History Award" for Distinction in Sports.
In 1999, Banks ranked Number 38 on The Sporting News list of "Baseball's Greatest Players", and was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.