Results tagged ‘ Ernie Banks ’

60 Years Ago Today: Ernie Banks makes his Cubs debut

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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.

Banks awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

President Barack Obama today announced Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks has been named a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“I am humbled and honored to receive this great award and to be among such distinguished honorees,” Banks said. “I have spent my life trying to help others enjoy and appreciate the sport I love. I thank President Obama for all his efforts. The Chicago Cubs and Cubs fans everywhere share in this award, as their support makes me proud to continue to work on behalf of America’s greatest game.”

According to the White House, The Medal of Freedom is the highest honor awarded to civilians in the United States. It was established in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy and is presented to those who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

“This honor is well deserved for a man who has done so much for the game of baseball,” said Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts.  “His contributions on and off the field have made a monumental impact to society. He is a great American ambassador who continues to spend his time and effort helping others love and appreciate America’s pastime.”

Banks joins a distinguished list of baseball players to receive this prestigious award, including Hank Aaron (2002), Roberto Clemente (2003), Joe DiMaggio (1977), Stan Musial (2011), Buck O’Neil (2006), Frank Robinson (2005), Jackie Robinson (1984) and Ted Williams (1991).

From the Pages of Vine Line: WAR All-Stars—Shortstop

All month, we’ll be unveiling the best single seasons by a Cubs player at each position in the team’s more than 100-year history, using the advanced statistic Wins Above Replacement (WAR). For the sixth installment of our WAR All-Star team, we turn to the six spot on the diamond, where it should come as no surprise Mr. Cub mans the shortstop position. Though Ernie Banks had a Hall of Fame career, it didn’t get much better than his two-year stretch from 1958-59.

Here’s how we chose our team.

What WAR essentially does is aggregate everything an individual contributes—offensively and defensively—into one definitive number that conveys his value, typically ranging from -1 to 10. The purpose of the formula is to quantify how much a team would lose if a player was swapped for an average replacement player.

In order to qualify for our team, each player had to spend the majority of his time at a single position during the season being measured. And because the team wasn’t officially christened the Chicago Cubs until 1903, players who represented the Orphans, Colts and White Stockings were excluded (apologies to Bill Hutchison and his 10.6 WAR in 1892).

For more information or the entire team, be sure to pick up a copy of July’s issue of Vine Line. And watch the blog in the coming weeks for the rest of the roster.

Part 1: WAR All-Stars – Pitcher

Part 2: WAR All-Stars – Catcher

Part 3: WAR All-Stars – First Base

Part 4: WAR All-Stars – Second Base

Part 5: WAR All-Stars – Third Base

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Shortstop: Ernie Banks, 1959—9.7 WAR
When it comes to finding the top season for a Cubs shortstop, it’s not really a question of who but rather when. Ernie Banks’ MVP campaigns in 1958 and 1959 are two of the position’s all-time best—his 1959 WAR total of 9.7 is still the highest for a shortstop since Honus Wagner’s 11.8 in 1908. Mr. Cub’s 45 home runs that year are the second most all time for a National League shortstop (trailing only his ’58 incarnation), while his 143 RBI are the most ever for an NL shortstop. Despite nearing the end of his run as a middle infielder, Banks committed just 12 errors and had an elite defensive season, recording a 23 on the defensive metric total zone rating (where 15 is considered Gold Glove caliber). The late ’50s and early ’60s might not have been the best time for Cubs baseball, but Banks’ play alone was worth the price of admission, especially during his prime.

Rob Neyer’s Take:
“Choosing between 1958 and 1959 is like choosing between chocolate and strawberry. Or maybe between chocolate and just slightly better chocolate, as Mr. Cub’s numbers were nearly identical in both seasons, with deserved Most Valuable Player Awards.”

Other Notable Seasons:
Ernie Banks – 8.7 WAR (1958)
Ernie Banks – 7.8 WAR (1955)

1000 Words: Happy Memorial Day

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As Memorial Day weekend approaches, let’s take a moment to thank our troops for all they do—and all they have done—for our country. Prior to joining the North Siders in 1953, “Mr. Cub,” Ernie Banks, spent two years in the United States Army during the Korean War. Former Cubs pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander also served in the Army during World War I.

Cubs to honor Jackie Robinson

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

As the Jackie Robinson biopic 42: The True Story of An American Legend is released in theaters nationwide Friday, the Chicago Cubs announced they will honor the 66th anniversary of Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier on Tuesday, April 16. This historic moment is celebrated league-wide each year on April 15, with all uniformed personnel wearing Robinson’s retired no. 42 in honor of the legendary Hall of Famer.

“We’re happy to join all of Major League Baseball on this historic occasion,” said Tom Ricketts, chairman of the Chicago Cubs. “Jackie Robinson is a true American hero, and we are all greatly indebted to his contribution to not only baseball, but to American history and culture.”

Since the Cubs’ home series against the Texas Rangers begins on April 16, the Cubs will honor Robinson during a pregame ceremony, and players on both teams will wear No. 42. Nearly 50 “42” flags will adorn the roof of Wrigley Field during the series.

In addition, the Chicago Cubs will host more than 300 Chicago Public School (CPS) high school baseball players to attend Tuesday night’s game in recognition of the celebration. Several CPS baseball players will be recognized during the pregame ceremony.

As part of the pregame ceremony, Hall of Famers Ernie Banks and Billy Williams will both be recognized. Banks shares a special kinship with Robinson as the first African-American to play for the Cubs. Banks considered Robinson a mentor during their time in the majors.

Billy Williams broke into the majors not long after Robinson and Banks, and credits Robinson with being the pioneer who opened the door for all baseball players of color. Williams will share his comments about Robinson and his own personal experience playing in the Robinson-era during the game telecast on Comcast SportsNet.

Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., who gave the eulogy at Robinson’s funeral services in Brooklyn, N.Y., and actor John C. McGinley will throw out the first pitches t the game. McGinley, who stars as Brooklyn play-by-play announcer Red Barber in the movie, will also serve as the guest conductor for the 7th-inning stretch.

Following the game, Cubs Authentics will auction a game worn No. 42 jersey signed by all the Cubs players and a flag from the roof of Wrigley Field, with proceeds going to Chicago Cubs Charities.

Happy Birthday: Ernie Banks turns 82

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Hall of Famer Ernie Banks turned 82 years old Thursday. Mr. Cub played 19 seasons with the Cubs, accumulating MVP awards in 1958-59, racking up 11 All-Star trips and a Gold Glove in 1960. Banks was a career .274 hitter and was the ninth member to join the 500 home run club, finishing with 512. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977, earning 83.8 percent of the votes on his first attempt.

1000 Words: Banks and Billy

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

Cubs Hall of Famers Billy Williams and Ernie Banks are introduced at the Opening Ceremonies of the 28th Annual Cubs Convention last Friday.

1000 Words: First snow at Wrigley

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

The first snow of the season is due tonight in Chicago. Ernie’s ready. Are you?

2013 Cubs Convention passes on sale now

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The MVP awards were handed out Thursday night, signifying the official end of the the 2012 baseball season. But just because Spring Training is still months away doesn’t mean Cubs fans can’t get their baseball fix.

From Jan. 18-20, Cubs faithful will have an opportunity to meet more than 50 current and former players, coaches and front office associates at the 28th annual Cubs Convention. For the first time in the event’s history, it will be held at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers at 301 E. North Water St., and it promises to deliver all the fun and excitement of previous years.

Some of the headliners expected to attend this year include Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins and Billy Williams; current stars Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Brett Jackson and Jeff Samardzija; and front office personnel like Dale Sveum, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.

Individual weekend passes for the event went on sale earlier this month, and there are still some available. Each pass is $60 plus convenience fees. To purchase your pass, visit cubs.com or call 1-800-THE-CUBS.

Guests can also still book rooms at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers by calling the hotel at 800-233-4100. Ask for the Cubs Convention rate of $179/night plus tax. Guests who book a two-night stay will receive a limited edition, authenticated, autographed photo of Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson.

The convention will run from 1-9 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m-midnight Saturday and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit cubs.com.

Hot off the presses: January 2012 Vine Line

The New Year signals a new era for Cubs faithful. We’ve got a new front office, some new players and a new reason to celebrate.

The first Vine Line issue of 2012 salutes the life and career of Cubs great and newly minted Hall of Famer Ron Santo. Thanks to a vote from the Veterans Committee, the iconic third baseman finally earned his rightful place alongside teammates Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins and Billy Williams in Cooperstown. Baseball Prospectus’ Jay Jaffe explains why the nine-time All Star and five-time Gold Glover not only deserved his enshrinement long ago, but also might be the sixth or seventh best third basemen of all time. Vine Line subscribers also get a one-of-a-kind, commemorative tear-out poster of Santo and his Hall of Fame teammates.

Although the weather might be a bit chilly for baseball, we also get back on the field in this issue with a look at the Cubs first moves of the Hot Stove season, the signing of outfielder David DeJesus and the trade for third baseman Ian Stewart. These moves say a lot about what the new Cubs brain trust values and where the team is headed in the future.

“I tend to like [well-rounded] players. The totality of their contributions can be equal to or more than the player who does one thing extremely well,” Epstein said. “If we have a club full of well-rounded players, we’re going to far exceed the expectations because the subtle contributions really add up.”

Finally, Cubs.com’s Carrie Muskat talks to right-hander Andrew Cashner about what he’s doing this offseason to prepare the help the team in 2012. After an injury plagued 2011, Cashner is feeling strong and ready to go–no matter which role the Cubs ask him to play.

You’ll find these stories and more in our January issue. If you want to be part of all the exciting Cubs action in 2012, subscribe to Vine Line today. And watch for our minor league prospectus issue in February, profiling the top talent rising through the Cubs farm system.

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