Nobody represented his city or team more joyously, or admirably, than Mr. Cub.
Last night, we lost a baseball legend and a Chicago hero, Ernie Banks. He was 83.
Affectionately called “Mr. Cub”, no one could say it better than Wilbon up above. He continued to write that in an era of iconic Chicago athletes in the 60s and 70s, “Banks would have sat at the head of the table.”
For my 20-something generation, we have to take numerous accounts like these of Banks’ impact as a player and in the city of Chicago during his playing career. The breadth of tributes from sportswriters and former teammates alike sound just like this. I even have a first-hand source myself who can back them all up: my dad.
He’s the biggest Cubs fan I know and was devastated at the news of his childhood hero. We reminisced through amazing statistics, dad’s personal stories of getting his autograph, and browsed through a lot of the photos seen up above in the gallery.
One main takeaway after our talks and being immersed in the coverage: Ernie Banks lived with the most positive, happiest spirit that anyone could recall. His famous saying, “It’s a great day for a ballgame. Let’s play two!” was said during a 105-degree summer day at the ‘Friendly Confines’ of Wrigley Field (a phrase Banks also coined and lasts today.)
Let’s play two! It means so much.
As we reflect on Mr. Cub’s hall-of-fame playing career, his impact in Chicago and around the world as the first African-American to play for the Cubs, we can also emulate our own life and mentality in alignment with the way Banks has lived. “Let’s play two!”
One of the most heartbreaking anecdotes from Ernie Banks’ passing is what he planned to do when the Cubs eventually do win a World Series. Via the conclusion of the aforementioned article by Wilbon:
Ernie always said when the Cubs finally won a World Series — it’s 106 years and counting — he wanted to go to Wrigley Field one night and just stand there alone, in the dark, and soak it all in. So you know what we’re thinking, all the little kids who are beyond 50 now and who watched Banks play all those years ago. Maybe this will be the Cubs’ time. They’ll wear his No. 14 on their jerseys this season and feel about the Cubbies the way he did, which is to say inspired and joyous and ready every single day to play two.
Hopefully the Cubs can win it for Ernie… and Ronnie, Harry, Jack, and all of the Cubs legends who passed through Wrigley Field at one time or another. This is the year?! It’d be even more of an amazing Hollywood story than Back to the Future could have ever predicted.