Thursday, November 03, 2016

Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks (Photo, Bio)

Ernie Banks lived from January 31, 1931-January 23, 2015. He played parts of 19 seasons, from 1954-1971, all of them with the Chicago Cubs, winning the National League MVP award in 1958 and 1959, when he was a star shortstop. In 1958, Banks led the National League in homers and RBI, with 47 and 129, respectively; and in 1959, led the league in RBI, with 143. (In those days, the season lasted only 154 games.) He won his only Gold Glove in 1960. Banks switched to first base in 1962.

Ernie Banks finished up his career with 512 home runs, 1636 runs batted in, a .274 batting average, and was known for his sunny disposition. However, he never played in a single postseason game, and died before seeing his beloved Cubs make it to the promised land.

During the late 1960s, the Cubs had great position players, with the aging Banks complemented by Glenn Beckert at second base, Don Kessinger at shortstop, Ron Santo at third, Randy Hundley catching, and Billy Williams in left field. Their pitching ace was sinkerballer Ferguson Jenkins.

In 1969, Banks' last full season, the Cubs seemed to be running away with the National East title, but in August the Mets caught up to them, and eventually left them in the dust, eight games behind, on the way to New York's "miracle" season and first world championship.

Ernie Banks symbolized generations of baseball futility at Wrigley Field.

Banks was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, on the first ballot, in 1977. Jenkins and Williams would eventually join him.

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