Born January 31, 1931 in Dallas, Texas
The first African American to take the field for the Chicago Cubs, Ernie Banks had a remarkable career in baseball. As a shortstop, outfielder, first baseman, and powerful homerun hitter, he was known as "Mr. Cub" by his fans, and was the club's first player to have his number retired.
Born on January 31, 1931 in Dallas, Texas, Banks was the second of twelve children. Like his father, who played baseball for two local teams, Banks was a skilled athlete who competed in basketball, football, softball, and track and field. However, he didn't begin to play baseball until high school, when a scout spotted him playing softball and recruited him to play for a semi-pro team in Amarillo, Texas during the summers. After graduation, he began playing in the Negro League for the Kansas City Monarchs. After serving in the Army, he returned to play for the Monarchs, but was soon signed by the Chicago Cubs, where he spent the rest of his athletic career.
Banks proved to be a valuable asset to the team for 19 seasons. By the time he retired he had scored a record 512 home runs and 1,636 RBIs. From 1955 to 1960 he hit more homeruns than any other player in the Major Leagues. He played in 13 All-Star games and was twice voted the National League's Most Valuable Player. Banks was voted into the Baseball Hall of fame in 1977, the first year he was eligible for this honor.
Fans adored Banks for his exceptional play as well as the optimism he brought to the seemingly cursed Cubs. In an effort to energize his teammates before a game on an especially hot day in middle of the 1969 season, he told them, "Let's play two," a phrase now permanently associated with Banks and his positive attitude. In the 1950s he was voted as the fans' favorite player, and in 1968 as the greatest Cub player of all time.
Banks has also been successful off the field. After retiring from playing, Banks remained with the Cubs as a coach and consultant. He became the first African American to own a Ford Dealership and in the 1990s he created his own sports marketing firm. He also founded a non-profit organization that focuses on building self-esteem in children and seniors. Still an active learner, he has plans to become an international lawyer and attend business school.
Banks and his wife, Liz, live in California. He has three children.
Ernie Bank's Wikipedia Page
URL: (Click to bookmark): http://www.visionaryproject.org/banksernie