It’s a little bit of old news now, but we couldn’t let it slip by. His nickname was ‘Mr. Cub,’ also known as ‘Mr. Sunshine’, and he was a true legend in baseball.

“Words cannot express how important Ernie Banks will always be to the Chicago Cubs, the city of Chicago and Major League Baseball. 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 kindhearted, Ernie Banks is and always will be Mr. Cub,” stated Cubs chairman, Tom Ricketts.

Indeed, that was Mr. Banks, the kindhearted #2 BEARwho sadly passed away a couple of weeks ago from a heart attack. He was 84. Ernie became the Chicago franchise’s first black player when he made his debut late in the 1953 season. Banks began his professional career with the Negro League’s Kansas City Monarchs in 1950. After spending two years in the army, the Monarchs sold his contract to the Cubs, and Banks jumped straight to the Major Leagues, hitting .314 in the 10 games he played in that first season. The next year he became Chicago’s starting shortstop, and then in 1955 he racked up 117 RBIs while blasting 44 home runs, the most ever for a shortstop at that time.

Hall of Fame manager Leo Durocher (#13 FCIR), who was known for saying “Nice guys finish last,” spoke differently about Banks. “Banks is one nice guy who finished first — but he had the talent to go with it.” Indeed, as BTInsiders well-know, #2 BEARs can be extremely kind, sensitive people (with good nurture), coupled with fantastic inborn athletic skills due to their gross-motor, Right brain adeptness. They love life, and live it freely. “He rejoices merely in living, and baseball is a marvelous extra that makes his existence so much more pleasurable,” wrote sportswriter Arthur Daley. Banks was also said to “go right up to people and ask about their families and how they were doing rather than baseball. He wanted to know all about people’s lives. Baseball was not the first thing he would talk about. He cared about people.”

Jon Niednagel can certainly attest to the warm-hearted ways of Ernie Banks, having spoken to him on occasion while he worked for the Chicago Cubs back in the early 1990s. He was a true gentlemen, having worked his way through life by overcoming the odds, and learning to make peace with those who were at odds with him. As one story goes from 1957 (recalled by late umpire Tom Gorman), pitchers Don Drysdale (#15 FCIL), Bob Purkey, Bob Friend and Jack Sanford all knocked down Banks with pitches that year. “And each time he was knocked down,” Gorman said, “Banks hit their next pitch out of the park.”

Written by: Staff
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