Banks statue a smiling success

There are a lot of things to smile about at Wrigley Field. This last weekend it was the wins and the weather, but there always seems to be something that brings the best out of us at the ballpark.

One new addition already is getting a tremendous response from our fans: the Ernie Banks statue. The sidewalks were filled with fans for the unveiling, including across Clark St. People seem to form a square around the statue, allowing group by group to approach it and pose for photos.

It looks great, too. The straight-up bat, ready to quick-wrist a pitch into the leftfield bleachers, represents his stance perfectly. And it’s Banks’ trademark smile that sculptor Lou Cella added that most captures the spirit of Ernie.

And, guess what? Just as I was writing this, Ernie walked in to say hi to the Vine Line staff. He caught a glance of this year’s “Kids Scorecard” — a colorful fold out with games that ushers hand out to children at the ballpark — and was pleased with the illustrated cover design. On it, kids help Ernie navigate a maze to his new statue. Ernie ordered 25,000 copies.

Keep an eye out for the May Vine Line article on the Ernie Banks statue dedication, written by former editor Jim McArdle.

Ernie Banks 512 Chardonnay

That’s not all Ernie has been doing since Opening Day. Last Thursday, Michael and I checked out a media event to launch Ernie’s limited-edition wine. Ernie and his wife, Liz, were in great spirits, making sure to say hello to everyone in attendance.

All proceeds will support his charity, the Live Above & Beyond Foundation, to help eliminate prejudice and discrimination through educational and athletic programs. The bottle, with a giant 512 and white pinstripes on a blue background, is sure to be a hit with Cubs fans this summer.

To the fans

Ernie was nice enough to send a thank you to the Cubs staff last week. In it, he had some glowing words for the fans who have given him support, encouragement and memories throughout the years.)

–Sean Ahmed

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