78 Facts About Ernie Banks


Ernest Ernie Banks, nicknamed "Mr Cub" and "Mr Sunshine", was an American professional baseball player who starred in Major League Baseball as a shortstop and first baseman for the Chicago Cubs between 1953 and 1971.

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Ernie Banks was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977, and was named to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team in 1999.

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Ernie Banks is regarded by some as one of the greatest players of all time.

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Ernie Banks began playing professional baseball in 1950 with the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro leagues.

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Ernie Banks served in the U S military for two years, played for the Monarchs again, and began his National League career in September 1953.

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The following year, Ernie Banks was the National League Rookie of the Year runner-up.

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Ernie Banks was the Cubs' main attraction in the late 1950s, the National League Most Valuable Player in 1958 and 1959, and the Cubs' first Gold Glove winner in 1960.

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Ernie Banks retired from playing in 1971, was a coach for the Cubs in 1972, and in 1982 was the team's first player to have his uniform number retired.

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Ernie Banks was active in the Chicago community during and after his tenure with the Cubs.

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Ernie Banks 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.

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In 2013, Ernie Banks was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contribution to sports.

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Ernie Banks's father, who had worked in construction and was a warehouse loader for a grocery chain, played baseball for black, semi-professional teams in Texas.

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Ernie Banks's father bought him a baseball glove for less than three dollars at a five and dime store and motivated him with nickels and dimes to play catch.

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Ernie Banks's mother encouraged him to follow one of his grandfathers into a career as a minister.

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Ernie Banks' school did not have a baseball team; he played fastpitch softball for a church team during the summer.

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Ernie Banks was a member of the Amarillo Colts, a semi-professional baseball team.

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In 1951, Banks was drafted into the U S Army and served in Germany during the Korean War.

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Ernie Banks served as a flag bearer in the 45th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion at Fort Bliss, where he played with the Harlem Globetrotters on a part-time basis.

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Ernie Banks signed with the Chicago Cubs in late 1953, making his major league debut on September 17 at age 22 and playing in 10 games at Wrigley Field.

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Ernie Banks was the Cubs' first black player; he became one of several former Negro league players who joined MLB teams without playing in the minor leagues.

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Ernie Banks was so grateful to be playing baseball for a living, he did not have time to change the world, and if that meant some people called him an Uncle Tom, well, so be it.

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Later, when Ernie Banks felt like becoming more vocal, he discussed the issue with teammate Billy Williams, who advised him to remain quiet.

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Ernie Banks hit 19 home runs and finished second to Wally Moon in Rookie of the Year voting.

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Ernie Banks participated in a trend toward lighter baseball bats after he accidentally picked up a teammate's bat and liked that it was easy to generate bat speed.

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Ernie Banks played and was the starting NL shortstop in his first of 13 All-Star Games that season.

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Ernie Banks's home run total was a single-season record among shortstops.

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Ernie Banks set a 30-year record of five single-season grand slam home runs.

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Ernie Banks finished third in 1955 in the league's Most Valuable Player voting, behind Roy Campanella and Duke Snider.

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In 1956, Ernie Banks missed 18 games due to a hand infection, breaking his run of 424 consecutive games played.

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Ernie Banks made the All-Star selection as a reserve player but did not play in the game.

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In 1958 and 1959, Ernie Banks became the first NL player to be awarded back-to-back MVP Awards, leading the league in RBI in both those seasons .

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Ernie Banks hit a major-league-leading 47 home runs in 1958, while batting.

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In 1960, Ernie Banks hit a major league and NL-leading 41 HR, had 117 RBI, and led the NL in games played for the sixth time in seven years.

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Ernie Banks was the first Cubs player to receive an annual NL Gold Glove award .

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In 1961, Ernie Banks experienced problems with a knee injury he had suffered while in the army.

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Ernie Banks later said, "Only a duck out of water could have shared my loneliness in left field".

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Ernie Banks credited center fielder Richie Ashburn with helping him learn to play left field; in 23 games Ernie Banks committed only one error.

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Ernie Banks was not selected to be an All-Star for the first of two All-Star games that season since 1959, when MLB started having two All-Star Games per season through 1962, but was selected as a reserve player.

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Ernie Banks was a pinch hitter in the second All-Star game.

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In May 1962, Ernie Banks was hit in the head by a fastball from former Cubs pitcher Moe Drabowsky and was taken off the field unconscious.

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Ernie Banks sustained a concussion, spent two nights in a hospital, sat out a Monday game, and hit three home runs and a double on Tuesday.

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In May 1963, Ernie Banks set a single-game record of 22 putouts by a first baseman.

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Ernie Banks couldn't run, he couldn't field; toward the end, he couldn't even hit.

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Ernie Banks had an unfailing instinct for doing the wrong thing.

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Ernie Banks competed with John Boccabella for a starting position at first base.

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Ernie Banks hit 23 home runs and drove in 95 runs, and went to the All-Star Game that year.

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Ernie Banks won the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award in 1968, an honor recognizing playing ability and personal character.

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Ernie Banks made his 11th and final All-Star season appearance as a pinch hitter; it was his 14th All-Star Game appearance overall.

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Ernie Banks was an instructor in the minor leagues for the next three seasons and worked in the Cubs' front office.

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Ernie Banks finished his career with 512 home runs; his 277 home runs as a shortstop were a career record at the time of his retirement.

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Ernie Banks excelled as an infielder; he won an NL Gold Glove Award for shortstop in 1960.

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Ernie Banks led the NL in putouts five times and was the NL leader in fielding percentage as shortstop three times, and once as first baseman.

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Ernie Banks holds the major league record for most games played without a postseason appearance .

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Ernie Banks was a lifelong Republican – and he once stated that "I'm not goin' anywhere I'm not wanted" – prompting critics to claim that he was "soft" on Jim Crow; he ran for alderman in Chicago in 1963.

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Ernie Banks ran in the 8th Ward against Democratic incumbent James A Condon.

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In 1966, Ernie Banks worked for Seaway National Bank in the off-season and enrolled in a banking correspondence course.

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Ernie Banks bought into several business ventures, including a gas station, during his playing career.

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Ernie Banks later spent time working for an insurance company and for New World Van Lines.

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Ernie Banks was appointed to the board of directors of the Chicago Transit Authority in 1969.

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Ernie Banks's received several valuable items from his playing career as part of their divorce settlement, including his 500th home run ball.

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Ernie Banks married Liz Ellzey in 1997 and Hank Aaron served as his best man.

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Ernie Banks's nephew, Bob Johnson, was a major league catcher and first baseman for the Texas Rangers between 1981 and 1983.

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Ernie Banks had been appointed to the Chicago Transit Board in 1969 by the governor of Illinois.

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Ernie Banks was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977, his first year of eligibility.

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Ernie Banks was the first player to have his number retired by the team.

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At the time of the ceremony, Ernie Banks was employed as the Cubs' corporate sales representative.

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Ernie Banks served as a team ambassador after his retirement, though author Phil Rogers says the team had never placed Ernie Banks in a position of authority or significant influence.

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Rogers wrote that after the sale, Ernie Banks was viewed as "something of a crazy uncle who hung around the house for no apparent reason", and that team officials anonymously told the press that Ernie Banks had been fired because he was unreliable.

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At the 1990 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, the first one held at Wrigley Field since Ernie Banks' playing days, he threw out the ceremonial first pitch to starting catcher Mike Scioscia.

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Ernie Banks was named to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team in 1999.

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In June 2006, Crain's Chicago Business said Ernie Banks was part of a group looking into buying the Chicago Cubs in case the Tribune Company decided to sell the club.

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Ernie Banks was an ordained minister; he presided at the wedding of MLB pitcher Sean Marshall.

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That year, Eddie Vedder released a song called "All The Way", which Ernie Banks had asked Vedder to write about the Cubs as a birthday gift.

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In 2009, Ernie Banks was named a Library of Congress Living Legend, a designation that recognizes those "who have made significant contributions to America's diverse cultural, scientific and social heritage".

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Ernie Banks remained close to the Cubs team and made frequent appearances at their spring training grounds, HoHoKam Stadium in Arizona.

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Ernie Banks was inducted as a Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois and awarded the Order of Lincoln by the Governor of Illinois in 1970, in the area of Sports.

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Ernie Banks had been diagnosed with dementia shortly before the change in his will.

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Ernie Banks was buried in Graceland Cemetery, just a few blocks north of Wrigley Field.

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