Cubs To Honor Ernie Banks On Opening Day

By BASN Wire Services
Updated: May 22, 2007

CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs have announced that the club will honor legendary Cubs infielder Ernie Banks, better known as “Mr. Cub,” with a statue to be erected at Wrigley Field by Opening Day 2008.

Banks spent his 19-year career (1953-1971) exclusively with the Cubs and owns franchise records with 2,528 games played and 1,009 extra-base hits. He ranks second in Cubs history with 2,583 hits, 512 home runs and 1,636 RBI.

The 14-time National League All-Star earned N.L. Most Valuable Player award honors in 1958 and 1959, and was enshrined into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977.

“This is richly deserved for Ernie Banks and it is a great way to honor “Mr. Cub,” said Cubs President John McDonough. “The statue will help immortalize someone who continues to have a tremendous impact on the Cubs and its fans, just as he did while he was on the playing field.”

The statue’s exact location at Wrigley Field has yet to be determined and will be commissioned through the Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt-Amrany, the same company that produced other notable statues such as the Harry Caray piece at Wrigley Field and the Michael Jordan statue at the United Center.

“This is a truly tremendous honor. I would like to thank John McDonough, the entire Cubs organization and its fans, as well as all the people who helped me throughout my playing career,” Banks said. “The Cubs mean everything to me.”

All told, Banks batted .274 with 512 homers and 1,636 RBI for Chicago while his 47 home runs in 1958 set the National League single-season mark for long balls by a shortstop.

He was the first Cub to have his number retired by the franchise, as the honor was bestowed on his No. 14 on August 22, 1982.

Born on January 31, 1931 in Dallas, Banks began his professional baseball career in 1950 with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues. He broke into the major leagues in 1953 with Chicago as their first black player.

He played for the Cubs his entire career, starting at shortstop and moving to first base in 1962. Banks is one of only four Cubs players who have had their number retired by the organization.

The defending N.L.Central champs (85-77) will open defense of their division crown on March 31 at Wrigley Field against the Milwaukee Brewers.