I was saddened to hear about the passing of former Chicago Cubs shortstop and first baseman, Ernie Banks, on Friday. Nicknamed “Mr. Cub” and a beloved figure around Chicagoland, Banks was the Cubs’ career home run leader until Sammy Sosa passed him up in 2004. With allegations of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) use surrounding Sosa, I still hold Banks in higher regard.
One of the things Banks was best known for was his catchphrase, “It’s a beautiful day for a ballgame … let’s play two!” He loved baseball so much that he would have loved to play doubleheaders every day.
I’m not a Cubs fan by any means. I grew up an Atlanta Braves fan during their heyday in the ’90s, but have also been a lifelong Milwaukee Brewers fan by virtue of my family. But I have lived in the Chicagoland area all my life and I have great respect for Chicago icons. From what I’ve seen and heard, Banks was not your typical sports “legend.” He came from a day where ballplayers did not accumulate great wealth — and the rather large ego that typically comes with it. He was a humble man of the people who would mingle with the fans and the world certainly lost a great guy.