|2009 Topps The Cards Your Mom Threw Out #CMT63 Ernie Banks|
Banks, a two-time NL MVP and first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, was known for keeping an upbeat attitude despite many losing years on the Cubs. Before "Ironman" Cal Ripken, Jr. wrapped up his career, Banks held the record for most home runs by a shortstop. That power stroke was good enough to belt 512 home runs, though he played over 2,500 games without a postseason appearance, an unfortunate Major League record that stands to this day. And I thought Todd Zeile's record of most games played without an All-Star appearance was bad.
After a few years with the legendary Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League, and a short stint in the Army, Banks entered the NL in 1953, only a few years after Jackie Robinson broke the MLB's color barrier. In fact, Ernie Banks was the first African-American player to play for Chicago's NL team.
I wrote a few posts ago about players that stayed with one franchise throughout their career. Unsurprisingly, with a nickname like "Mr. Cub", Banks was one of them. He played 19 seasons for the Cubbies, and coached for a couple years after his retirement. He was so synonymous with the Cubs franchise that he was the first player to have his uniform number (14) retired by the team.
If the Cubs finally make this their year, you can be certain that it will be dedicated to the memory of Ernie Banks.