Results tagged ‘ Ernie Banks ’

10 Decades, 10 Legends: 1950s—Ernie Banks


For our annual July All-Star issue, Vine Line set out to find the most valuable player from each 10-year span in Wrigley Field’s history to create a Cubs All-Star team for the ages. There are hundreds of ways to go about this, so we simplified things by using the baseball statistics website Fangraphs to find the player with the highest Wins Above Replacement total for each decade.

Wins Above Replacement, better known as WAR, takes all of a player’s statistics—both offensive and defensive—and outputs them into a single number designed to quantify that player’s total contributions to his team (though for pitchers, we used only their mound efforts and excluded offensive stats). For our purposes, a player received credit only for the numbers he posted in each individual decade and only for the years he was a member of the Cubs.

In the fifth installment of our 10 Decades, 10 Legends series, it’s Mr. Cub Ernie Banks’ time in the spotlight. During the 1950s, he put together one of the best stretches for a shortstop ever.

Previous Decades:
1910s – Hippo Vaughn
1920s – Grover Cleveland Alexander
1930s – Billy Herman
1940s – Bill Nicholson

1950s – Ernie Banks, 39.6 WAR

Seasons: 1953-59
AVG/OBP/SLG: .295/.355/.558
PA: 3,954
HR: 228
R: 582
RBI: 661
SB: 35

Ernie Banks’ 1950s WAR total is the sixth best among NL offensive players for the decade. It’s even more impressive when you consider he was active for only six full seasons during that stretch.

With segregation still impacting professional baseball, Banks didn’t join the major leagues until September 1953, when he played 10 games with the Cubs just before the season ended.

But by the latter stages of the 1950s, Mr. Cub was striking fear into the hearts of NL pitchers. In 1958 and 1959, he put up two of the most productive seasons ever—no shortstop has put up a similar WAR total in a single season since.

In 1958, he claimed two-thirds of the Triple Crown, hitting 47 homers and driving in 129, all while batting a career-best .313. The following year he slammed 45 homers and had a league-leading 143 RBI. He claimed MVP awards in both years.

For the decade, Banks averaged 33 homers versus just 62 strikeouts per season—and this was at a time when very little offense was expected of middle infielders. He finished second in Rookie of the Year voting in 1954 and went to five All-Star Games in the 1950s, starting three.

Mr. Cub was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977.


1960s Homestand Promotions and Guests: 7/11/14-7/13/14


(Photo by Stephen Green)

A short, three-game homestand at Wrigley Field kicks off this Friday, July 11, as the Cubs welcome the Braves to town for a 1960s-themed celebration. Cubs fans can relive one of the venerable stadium’s greatest decades along with Hall of Fame Bears running back Gale Sayers, Rookie of the Year star Thomas Ian Nicholas and Cubs players from the 1960s.

Here are the other guests and promotions you’ll find at the Friendly Confines this weekend.

1960s Homestand Recap, July 11-13

Friday, July 11, Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves, 3:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Gale Sayers Bobblehead presented by Comcast SportsNet (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitch: Carl Giammarese, Chicago native and original lead singer of 1960s band The Buckinghams
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Former Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers
  • Broadcast: Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network, WGN 720-AM Radio,

Saturday, July 12, Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves, 3:05 p.m. 

  • Promotion: Billy Williams Retired Number Flag presented by Wrigley (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: Thomas Ian Nicholas, actor from Rookie of the Year
  • National Anthem: Derrick Mitchell, Out at Wrigley contest winner
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio,

Sunday, July 13, Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves, 1:20 p.m.

  • Throwback uniforms: Retro 1969 home and visiting uniforms
  • Promotion: ‘60s Throwback Cubs Etch-A-Sketch (first 5,000 children)
  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: Former teammates from the late-1960s, including Ernie Banks, Randy Hundley, Rich Nye, Paul Popovich and Ken Rudolph
  • Broadcast: Comcast SportsNet, WGN 720-AM Radio,

For more information on Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday celebration, please visit

Hot Off the Press: July VL featuring the best player from every decade at Wrigley Field


I’m a sucker for nostalgia, which is one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed this season at Wrigley Field so much. I have been looking forward to Wrigley’s 100th birthday for a few years now because I knew it would give Vine Line a chance to really delve into the organization’s history.

We not only produce the magazine, but we also create the scorecards sold at the Friendly Confines during every home series. To tie in with the Cubs’ 10 Decades, 10 Homestands promotion, we’ve been populating the covers with photos specific to the years being celebrated—which means we’ve spent countless hours searching the team’s photo archives for just the right shots.

When the Yankees were in town during the 1930s homestand, we found a picture from the 1932 World Series between the North Siders and the Bronx Bombers. When the Cubs were honoring the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League during the 1940s series, we found a photo of the league’s tryouts, which were held at Wrigley Field in 1943.

In the interest of full disclosure, my home is littered with black-and-white photographs of everything from the Chicago Theater to my relatives during WWII to the Cubs at Spring Training on Catalina Island. I love this stuff, and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t spent a few evenings looking through the photo archives just for fun.

In other words, this is probably something I shouldn’t get paid to do (though I probably don’t need to spread that news around).

Some of the things that caught my eye when we were planning our 2014 content for the magazine last year were the memorable program and scorecard covers the team used from the 1930s through the 1960s. We liked them so much, we decided to dedicate the valuable back page of the magazine (The Score) to featuring some of the best of the best this season.

When we wanted to learn more about the scorecards, we went to that amazing wellspring of arcane Cubs information from every era, team historian Ed Hartig, who has been an invaluable resource for all the historical content we’ve published this year. It turns out, for decades, most of the scorecard designs were the brainchild of one man, Otis Shepard, former art director for the William Wrigley Jr. Co. and longtime member of the Cubs board of directors. For our monthly Wrigley 100 feature, we look into the life and career of Shepard and how he came to design some of the Cubs’ most iconic images.

It’s also the July issue, which means it’s almost time for the Midsummer Classic. For our annual All-Star issue, we set out to find the most valuable Cubs player in each of Wrigley Field’s 10 decades. To do this, we used the stats website Fangraphs to compile the highest Wins Above Replacement totals for each decade. WAR essentially takes all of a player’s offensive and defensive efforts and outputs them into a single number designed to measure how many wins he provides over an average replacement player. There are definitely some names you would expect (I don’t think we could have a list like this without Mr. Cub), but there are also a few surprises (Rick Reuschel, anyone?).

Finally, Vine Line had a dream opportunity in May when the Yankees came to town. We worked with Yankees Magazine Editor-in-Chief Alfred Santasiere III to bring together two of the greatest shortstops the game has ever seen: Hall of Famer Ernie Banks and future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter. The legendary players sat down for a tête-à-tête that is every baseball fan’s dream come true.

Of course, we’re good for more than just history lessons. Follow us on Twitter at @cubsvineline for the best of the Cubs past, present and future.

And let’s keep that whole “shouldn’t get paid” thing between us.

—Gary Cohen

The Party of the Century shifts to the 1950s


Ernie Banks made his major league debut in 1953 and claimed the NL MVP in 1958 and ’59. (Photo courtesy National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

Wrigley Field will host this season’s lengthiest homestand to date, as the Cubs face the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals in a 10-game set from June 20-28 that concludes with a Saturday doubleheader against Washington (separate ticketing required). The team’s throwback uniform, promotional giveaways, specialty food and beverage offerings, and entertainment will mirror the sights and sounds of the 1950s at Wrigley Field as part of the season-long celebration of the ballpark’s 100th birthday.

Throwback Uniforms:
On Friday June 22, the Cubs will sport a throwback uniform from 1953 to honor Mr. Cub Ernie Banks. Banks made his Major League debut Sept. 17, 1953, vs. the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field. The 1953 uniform is the last of the zipper-front retro uniforms the team will wear this season. The visiting Pirates will wear a retro uniform from 1953 as well.

Promotional Giveaways:
Fans coming to the ballpark this homestand have the chance to collect a number of unique promotional items, beginning with an exclusive Ernie Banks Debut Bobblehead presented by Giordano’s for the first 10,000 fans attending the game Friday, June 20. On Saturday, June 21, the first 10,000 fans will receive a Cubs T-shirt presented by Cooper Tires. On Sunday, June 22, the first 5,000 kids 13-and-under will receive a ’50s Throwback Cubs Mr. Potato Head Keychain, and the first 1,000 kids in the park can run the bases postgame. On Friday, June 27, the first 20,000 fans in the ballpark will receive a Wrigley Field 100 Tote Bag presented by MLB Network. Finally, for the 12:05 p.m. game of the June 28 doubleheader, the first 4,000 kids 13-and-under will receive limited-edition American Girl Doll-sized Cubs apparel.

Cubs Special Events:
On Tuesday, June 24, Cubs fans can show their support of the men and women of our law enforcement and firefighting communities at the Salute to Heroes Night special event. Upon entering, fans can choose a blue Cubs-themed heroes shirt to support the men and women of law enforcement or a red Cubs-themed heroes shirt to support the men and women of the firefighting community. Some of Chicago’s bravest heroes will be honored during the evening’s pregame ceremony. Heroes Night tickets are available in the Budweiser Bleachers, Field Box Outfield or Terrace Reserved Outfield.

The team’s inaugural Halfway to the Holidays event in the Budweiser Bleachers is Wednesday, June 25. Each special event ticketholder will receive a Cubs Ugly Holiday T-shirt inspired by ugly holiday sweater designs.

Teacher Appreciation Night is Thursday, June 26. Teachers are invited to celebrate their hard work with a game ticket in the Budweiser Bleachers, Terrace Reserved Outfield or Upper Deck Reserved Outfield. Special event attendees will receive a Cubs Wall Clock and postgame walk on the warning track.

Tickets for all three special events may be purchased at

Specialty Food Offerings:
Levy Restaurants continues its decade-inspired menu at the Decade Diner, located inside Gate D near Section 142. The 1950s homestand features a Kraft Classic Grilled Cheese Sandwich served with Tomato Basil Bisque. The other homestand special is an Elvis “Nanner” Sandwich with peanut butter, banana and bacon. Kraft will continue to donate $100 to Cubs Charities for every opposing batter a Cubs pitcher strikes out at Wrigley Field in the month of June. Fans can pick up “K” cards inside the Decade Diner to help celebrate each strikeout.

The Decade Dogs stand near Section 123 is serving the 1950s TV Dinner Dog, which is a Vienna Beef hot dog topped with mashed potatoes, gravy and corn.

Adults 21-and-over can enjoy a Mr. Cub #14 Cocktail, served in a limited-edition souvenir glass on the main concourse at Section 109 and in the bleacher patio in left field. This Cubbie Blue cocktail features Smirnoff Vodka, Blue Curacao and lemonade, and is served with a slice of lemon and a cherry.

Community Events:
In addition to the team’s home games, fans can participate in three events benefiting charitable causes. On Friday, June 20, the third annual Hot Stove Cool Music Chicago concert combines music and baseball. Cubs president Theo Epstein, Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons and Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper will join an All-Star lineup of musicians and personalities at Metro in Wrigleyville to benefit Cubs Charities and Epstein’s Foundation To Be Named Later. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at for $50 or fans can call 773-404-CUBS for more information.

The next day, June 21, fans can come to Wrigley Field before that evening’s game to take some swings in the batting cage, throw a ball in the outfield or sit in the team dugouts at Cubs Charities’ Catch in the Confines event presented by Advocate Children’s Hospital. Catch in the Confines tickets are $150 per person or $25 for guests and can be purchased online at or by calling 773-404-CUBS. All proceeds benefit Cubs Charities.

Finally, on Friday, June 27, Cubs wives will auction off Cubs Favorite Things baskets filled with select gifts and memorabilia on the Wrigley Field concourse during the game. A similar auction will follow online at June 29-July 6, with all proceeds benefiting Cubs Charities.

Historic Moments:
Wrigley Field hosted noteworthy baseball and non-baseball events in the 1950s, including the debut of Mr. Cub Ernie Banks against the Phillies on April 17, 1953.

In 1951, during the Korean War, Wrigley Field instituted a voluntary policy in which fans who caught a foul ball could return those balls so they could be shipped to servicemen overseas. Fans were asked to write their name and address on the ball so the servicemen would know who sent it.

That same year, on April 17, professional golfer Sam Snead did what no major league batter has ever done—he hit Wrigley Field’s center field scoreboard with a golf ball and also hit a ball over the scoreboard with his 2-iron for good measure.

On August 21, 1954, a basketball court and portable lights were installed at Wrigley Field for games featuring the Harlem Globetrotters against George Mikan’s U.S. Stars, and the House of David traveling team against the Boston Whirlwinds.

Interestingly, Wrigley Field in Chicago wasn’t the only Wrigley Field in operation heading into the 1950s. The Cubs played Spring Training games at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles until 1951, when the franchise moved its Spring Training home from Santa Catalina Island in California to Rendezvous Park in Mesa, Arizona. The team’s programs at both ballparks featured cover designs by artist Otis Shepard. Season Ticket Holders will notice a nod to the Cubs’ final years at Wrigley Field Los Angeles on their ticket designs for the June 21 and 22 games.

To learn more about these historic moments and others, visit

Tickets for the Pirates, Reds and Nationals series remain available at or 800-THE-CUBS (800-843-2827).

1000 Words: Mr. Cub meets the Captain


Even the great ones need a few hitting tips every once in a while. With the Yankees in town on Tuesday, Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, sat down with Yankees captain Derek Jeter for a unique Q&A that will appear in Vine Line and Yankees Magazine. Keep an eye out for the upcoming July issue to get the complete interview.

1000 Words: Banks gets in the spirit


The Ernie Banks statue gets dressed up for the 100th birthday festivities at Wrigley Field. All the statues around the park will be wearing the Chi-Feds jerseys from 1914. The first 30,000 fans at the game will also take home a replica Chi-Feds jersey.

Both teams will be wearing Federal League throwback uniforms for Wednesday’s game—the Cubs will be dressed in Chi-Feds uniforms, and the Diamondbacks will be dressed as the Kansas City Packers (who the Cubs beat 9-1 on April 23, 1914, to open then-Weeghman Park).

1000 Words: Let’s Play Two!


Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks would be in seventh heaven.

A steady rain postponed the start of the Cubs-Yankees Interleague series in the Bronx on Tuesday, but the teams are set for a day-night doubleheader Wednesday, with games kicking off at 12:05 p.m. and 6:05 p.m. CST.

The Cubs will get their first look at Japanese sensation Masahiro Tanaka in the opener. He’ll square off against Cubs starter Jason Hammel, who is 2-0 with a 2.63 ERA in two starts this season. Travis Wood, 0-1 with a 2.92 ERA in two starts, will toe the slab in the nightcap, facing off against the Yankees Michael Pineda.

Yesterday’s Jackie Robinson Day festivities were moved to today as well. The first game will be broadcast on CSN, with the evening tilt on WGN.

1000 Words: Happy Birthday Mr. Cub


Cubs legend Ernie Banks turns 83 years young today. The two-time NL MVP is a member of the 500 home run club and was inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977. He finished his career as an 11-time All-Star and claimed a Gold Glove in 1960. Banks was the first Cub to have his number retired at Wrigley Field.

From the Pages of Vine Line: Banks and Baker, Game Changers


(National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

Every year, MLB celebrates Jackie Robinson’s 1947 breaking of the color barrier, but the Cubs organization made some history of its own six years later.

Sept. 22, 1953, marks the 60th anniversary of the day the North Siders fielded baseball’s first African-American double play combo: shortstop Ernie Banks and second baseman Gene Baker. Though Robinson and others had already integrated the game, racism was still rampant throughout the country, keeping many qualified African-American players out of the big leagues. The talented Baker, who played eight seasons for the Cubs and Pirates and made the 1955 NL All-Star team, was a victim of this prejudice.

Baker signed with the Cubs as an amateur free agent in 1950, but despite three-plus successful seasons in the minors, owner P.K. Wrigley opted to wait to bring Baker up until the team acquired another major league-ready African-American player. Wrigley figured because the two could stay in the same hotel rooms and eat at the same places, it would reduce the pressure on them.

On Sept. 8, the Cubs purchased the contract of 22-year-old shortstop Banks from the Kansas City Monarchs. He made his major league debut on Sept. 17, and Baker made his three days later as a pinch-hitter. Then, on Sept. 22, the duo made big league history when Banks started at shortstop and Baker moved over to second base.

—Phil Barnes

60 Years Ago Today: Ernie Banks makes his Cubs debut


Ernie Banks embodies Cubs baseball. A fan favorite since he broke into the big leagues, Mr. Cub was a supremely talented, maximum-effort shortstop who simply loved to be on the diamond.

Today marks the 60th anniversary of his Cubs debut. Banks would go 0-for-4 in a 14-6 loss to the Phillies at Wrigley Field, but it was the beginning of the first-ballot Hall-of-Famer’s 19-year MLB career, all of which was played on Chicago’s North Side. With his initial Cubs game on Sept. 17, 1953, Banks also became the first African-American to play for the organization.

Prior to his time with the Cubs, Banks played for the Negro League’s Kansas City Monarchs, where he debuted as a 19-year-old infielder in 1950.  After two years in the Army, he returned to the Monarchs, where he became one of the league’s brightest young stars.

His play only improved once he made the transition to the National League. The 11-time All-Star totaled 2,583 hits, a .274/.325/.572 line (AVG/OBP/SLG) and became the ninth member of the 500 home run club, finishing with 512. His finest seasons came in the back-to-back MVP campaigns of 1958 and ’59, in which he compiled WARs (wins above replacement) of 8.7 and 9.7, respectively.

In the ’50s and ’60s, most teams were happy to employ a weak-hitting player with a solid glove at the shortstop position. But Banks excelled at both, adding a Gold Glove to his resume in 1960.


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