Ernie Banks

Ernie Banks

Born: January 31st, 1931

Height: 6'1" Weight: 180 lbs.

Birthplace: Dallas, TX

High School: Booker T. Washington

Banks 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. He played for the Cubs his entire career, starting at shortstop and moving to first base in 1962. +more

Initially Banks' double play partner was Gene Baker, the second black player on the Cubs, and Banks' roommate on road trips. 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 four Cubs players who have had their number retired by the organization. Other players had worn number 14 previously, of course. Earlier in 1953, Paul Schramka had carried that number. It was originally worn by Guy Bush in 1932, the first year the Cubs wore numbers on their jerseys.

Banks became well known for his catch phrase 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 his self-described "friendly confines of Wrigley Field." In 1955, he set the record for grand slams in a single season with five, a record that stood for over twenty 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 the season. Jimmy Dykes reportedly remarked that, "Without him, the Cubs would finish in Albuquerque!"[1]

On September 2, 1965, Banks hit his 400th home run, and five years later, on May 12, 1970 at Chicago's Wrigley Field, hit his 500th home run. 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. (Alex Rodriguez now holds the record for most homers as a shortstop with 345.) Ernie Banks also currently holds the record for most extra base hits by a Cub with 1,009. Banks also holds the teams records for games played (2528), at-bats (9421) and total bases (4706).

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Baseball Career

1953 - 1971

Shortstop

Chicago Cubs

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1950 - 1950

Shortstop

Kansas City Monarchs

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Career Events

Aug 22, 1982

Jersey retired by the Chicago Cubs

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Sep 26, 1971

MLB Final Game

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Banks was 1 for 3 in his final Major League game. He singled in the bottom of the first off pitcher Ken Reynolds. The Cubs lost the game as they were defeated by the Philadelphia Phillies 5 to 1.

Sep 17, 1953

MLB Debut

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Banks was 1 for 3 in his final Major League game. He singled in the bottom of the first off pitcher Ken Reynolds. The Cubs lost the game as they were defeated by the Philadelphia Phillies 5 to 1.

Sep 8, 1953

Signed as an amateur free agent with the Chicago Cubs

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Banks was 1 for 3 in his final Major League game. He singled in the bottom of the first off pitcher Ken Reynolds. The Cubs lost the game as they were defeated by the Philadelphia Phillies 5 to 1.

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