Cubs’ first African- American player Ernie Banks died on January 23 at the age of 83, his wife, Liz, confirmed.
Known as “Mr. Cub,” Ernie Banks became the Cubs player on September 17, 1953, and went on to become an 11-time All-Star and two-time National League Most Valuable Player.
Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts released the following statement Friday night: “Words cannot express how important Ernie Banks will always be to the Chicago Cubs, the city of Chicago and Major League Baseball. He was one of the greatest players of all time. 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 kind-hearted, Ernie Banks is and always will be Mr. Cub. My family and I grieve the loss of such a great and good-hearted man, but we look forward to celebrating Ernie’s life in the days ahead.”
Ernie Banks, who hit 512 home runs and had 1,636 RBIs, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977.
In 1950, Ernie Banks began playing for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro leagues. After serving two years in the military, he joined the Cubs.
Ernie Banks played more games at first base (1,259) than he did at shortstop (1,125), but he is remembered more for his most productive younger seasons at shortstop.
A statue of Ernie Banks’ likeness was unveiled near the corner of Clark and Addison outside of Wrigley Field at the start of the 2008 baseball season.
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