The game of baseball lost a legend Friday night with the death of Ernie Banks’ at the age of 83, who passed eight days before his 84th birthday. Banks played 19 years in the Majors, all with the Chicago Cubs, and he passes with the franchise lead in several categories.
Naturally, the news was met with an outpour of messages and condolences from former and current players, and organizations. Among those was Jimmy Rollins, who thanked Banks for his contributions:
RIP Mr. Cub Ernie Banks……thank you for all of your contributions to the game we both love! ????
— Jimmy Rollins (@JimmyRollins11) January 24, 2015
The Los Angeles Dodgers also offered their condolences to Banks’ family:
The Dodgers express their sincere condolences to the family and fans of a true @Cubs legend, Ernie Banks. Rest in peace.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) January 24, 2015
Former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda recognized Banks’ talent and continued efforts to contribute once he retired, via Jon Weisman of Dodger Insider:
Ernie Banks was a great, great player,” Tommy Lasorda said tonight, “and when he no longer could play, he became a great ambassador for the game. He represented the game with the highest of class and dignity. Everybody loved Ernie Banks. He enjoyed baseball, life and people. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. We have truly lost a baseball giant.”
Banks’ 2,528 games played; 9,421 at-bats; 1,009 extra-base hits and 4,706 rank first in Cubs franchise history. His 512 home runs; 1,636 RBIs and 2,583 are second-most in franchise history and Banks ranks third in Cubs history with 407 doubles.
Although the Cubs didn’t regularly reach high levels of success during Banks’ career, he was a 14-time All-Star and won the NL MVP Award in back-to-back years. The first came in 1958 when Banks hit .313 with an MLB-best 47 home runs and 129 RBIs. He followed it up the following season by hitting .304 with 45 home runs and 143 RBIs.
In 1967, Banks began serving as a player-coach and became the first African American to manage in the Majors in May of 1973 when he replaced Whitey Lockman. Banks was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977 and had his No. 14 retired by the Cubs in 1982.
The Cubs expanded on their honoring of Banks by unveiling a statue at Wrigley Field, the franchise’s first, in 2008. Despite his passing, Banks’ infectious personality and attitude lives on.
Let’s Play Two.