The sports world has lost a legend as former Chicago Cubs infielder and Hall of Fame slugger Ernie Banks, "Mr. Cub," passed away on Friday. He was 83.
According to CNN, though details on his death have not yet surfaced, Banks's Cubs family has come forward to share a few words on the sudden loss. "Words cannot express how important Ernie Banks will always be to the Chicago Cubs the city of Chicago and Major League Baseball," said Tom Ricketts, Chicago Cubs Chairman, in a statement. "He was one of the greatest players of all time... He was the warmest and most sincere person I've ever known."
Banks played for the Cubs from 1953-1971, beginning his professional baseball career in the Negro Leagues with the Kansas City Monarchs in 1950. After serving two years in the U.S. Army, he returned to the Monarchs, who sold his contract to the Chicago Cubs.
He was the first Black player in Cubs history and also stood as the franchise's all-time leader in games ranking second only to Sammy Sosa in home runs. Even 40 years after his retirement from the sport, Banks held on to his franchise records in hits, intentional walks, sacrifice flies and RBIs since 1900.
"It's a beautiful day, let's play two" — referring to playing a doubleheader — became Banks's mantra throughout his career. He was known for possessing an uncharacteristically upbeat and optimistic demeanor for the game despite the Cubs's subpar performance throughout his career. Due to this undefeated attitude, he earned the nickname "Mr. Cub."
Also mourning the loss of the sports icon was Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who spoke on Banks's passion for the city itself: "Ernie Banks was more than a baseball player," he said. "He was one of Chicago's greatest ambassadors. He loved this city as much as he loved — and lived for — the game of baseball."
Six years after his retirement, in 1977, Banks was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Also throughout his career, he was a member of 11 National League All-Star teams, was voted the "Greatest Cub Ever" in 1969, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2013.
Ernie "Mr. Cub" Banks will always remain a staple in sports history. Our sincerest condolences go out to the legend's family and friends at this time.
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(Photo: David Banks/Getty Images)