Remembering Ernie Banks

Legend Ernie Banks dies of heart attack leaving huge void in baseball

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If you love baseball, you have to love Ernie Banks.

Unfortunately, Banks passed away after suffering a sudden heart attack. He’s gone but he’ll never be forgotten. He played the game of baseball the way it was (and is) supposed to be played. He played shortstop and first base for the Chicago Cubs. He made 14 All-Star Game appearances and won a Gold Glove in 1960.

Banks retired in 1971. That was the year I was born, so I never had the pleasure of seeing the National League’s first back-to-back Most Valuable Player on the diamond. I did, however, know about this legendary player. He never had the chance play in the World Series, on many of Chicago’s WGN telecasts.

He was almost always at spring training and was a regular at Wrigley Field during baseball’s dog days of summer.

To Cubs fans, the slugger, who hit 500 home runs, was larger than life. He was so adored by baseball fans, that his manager, Leo Durocher couldn’t take him out of the lineup. He played the game with a youthful enthusiasm that you simply don’t see from today’s stars.

Banks always wanted “to play two” and he simply had a love for baseball. He lived to play the game and was a player-coach during his final two seasons in the Windy City. After his retirement from baseball, Banks became one of the sport’s finest ambassadors. He later made an unsuccessful bid for public office.

Do any of us think that Banks would’ve made a good politician? He was just too honest and too down to earth. And it seemed only Durocher had anything negative to say about Banks, who spent his entire major league career with one of the game’s most futile franchises.

He never outwardly bashed the Cubs, although he certainly had plenty of opportunities. Like Ron Santo, another late Chicago baseball legend, he was a Cub.

Like many black players of his era, Banks had a career of humble beginnings. He played for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues and served his country. He later returned to the Monarchs before joining the Cubs and becoming one of baseball’s most endearing personalities and brightest stars.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977 and his immortality was assured. He, Santo, and Billy Williams were always around baseball.

His accomplishments were simply extraordinary, but he was an even better person. He resided in Los Angeles and made contributions to inner-city athletics once his playing days were over.

He simply cast a deep shadow over America’s Pastime. With his passing, the game won’t be the same. Although he’ll never be forgotten,

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