- SS, 3B, 1B, LF, OF
- Mr. Cub
- January 31, 1931
- 6' 1"
- 180 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 9-17-1953 with CHN
- Allstar Selections:
- 1958 MVP, 1959 MVP, 1960 GG, 1967 LG
- Hall of Fame:
As a boy, Ernie Banks' father had to pay his son a nickel to play catch with him. Later that would seem ridiculous, as Banks became a symbol of baseball enthusiasm. He often expressed his great joy at getting paid to play the game he loved so much. He was the most popular player in Chicago Cubs history. The National League Most Valuable Player in 1958 and 1959 while playing shortstop, Banks was known for his jovial manner off the field. A Hall of Famer, Banks was switched to first base in mid-career. He retired with virtually all of the slugging records for Cubs batters, and finished with 512 home runs.
Jim Hickman in 1970, and then Joe Pepitone in 1971, Banks' final season.
Banks was brilliant in 1958, perhaps his best season ever, as he established career highs in at bats, hits (193), triples, homers (47), runs (119), batting average (.313) and slugging percentage (.614). Banks topped the league in four departments that year (at bats, home runs, slugging percentage and RBI). He even led the league in assists by a shortstop with 519. Quite a feat for a man who also collected 379 total bases. Banks came back in '59 with another superb season. His 143 RBI again led the Senior Circuit, and he batted .304 with 45 home runs... Banks had three very similar seasons offensively in 1957, 1958, and 1959. But the latter year was arguably his finest. He led the NL in RBI with 143, slugging 43 home runs - an unheard of total for a shortstop. Playing in every game, he led all shortstops with a .985 fielding average. Banks batted .304 with a .596 slugging percentage and 97 runs scored. His OPS was .973 as he won his second straight MVP award.
In November of 2004, chicagocubs.com asked Cubs fans to name the greatest hitter in team history. Banks finished first, with 44% of the vote, followed by Sammy Sosa (19%), Ryne Sandberg (17%), Billy Williams (13%), Ron Santo (4%), and Cap Anson (3%).
Actor Bill Murray grew up idolizing Banks. Murray named his son "Homer Banks Murray" in honor of his hero.
Signed as an amateur free agent by Chicago Cubs (1953); Released by Chicago Cubs (December 1, 1971).
Defensive range at shortstop.
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