Ernie Banks







  “MR. CUB”



CHICAGO CUBS 1953-1971



As a boy, Ernie Banks father had to pay his son a nickel to play catch with him. Later that would seem ridiculous, as Banks became a baseball ambassador of good will. He often expressed his great joy at getting paid to play the game he loved so much. He is the most popular player in Chicago Cubs history.

The National League MVP in 1958 and 1959 while playing shortstop for the Cubs, Banks was known for his jovial manner off the field. A Hall of Famer, Banks was switched to first base in mid-career. He holds virtually all of the slugging records for Cubs batters, and finished with more than 500 home runs. He is one of the most successful players that never appeared in the post-season


Banks was brilliant in 1958, perhaps his best season ever, as he established career highs in at bats, hits (193), triples, homers (47), runs (119), batting average (.313) and slugging percentage (.614). Banks topped the league in four departments that year (at bats, home runs, slugging percentage and RBI). He even led the league in assists by a shortstop with 519. Quite a feat for a man who also collected 379 total bases. Banks came back in '59 with another superb season. His 143 RBI again led the Senior Circuit, and he batted .304 with 45 home runs.

It is sadly true that the optimistic Banks was doomed to play for a club which was destined to become associated with mediocrity. Nevertheless, the BBWAA ignored his team's failings and gave Banks the 1958 MVP over Henry Aaron (.326, 30, 90)  who guided his Milwaukee Braves to a National League pennant.


Banks set a record in 1955 when he slugged five grand slams, the last one off Lindy McDaniel on September 19. The record setting slam came in McDaniel’s first major league start. Banks five base-clearing blasts broke the record previously shared by Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ralph Kiner, Frank Schulte, Rudy York, Tommy Henrich, Vince DiMaggio, Sid Gordon, Al Rosen and Ray Boone.


Banks also broke Vern Stephen’s record for most home runs by a shortstop in a single season. His slugging vaulted him toward the top of baseball – from 1955 to 1960 his 248 home runs were more than anyone else in the majors, including Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, and Aaron.









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