Ernie Banks retired before I was born. I didn’t grow up watching him play but his enthusiasm resonated throughout each game the Cubs played.
I didn’t need to watch him play. He was there in the infield. He was there in the dugout. He was there through it all. That’s what he meant to the North Side team. He was the face of the franchise.
He played his entire 19 seasons for the Cubs never winning a World Series and never seeing the post season but if they were to give out an honorary one, then he would have received many rings.
The first time my wife and I visited Cooperstown, I wanted to see Ernie’s plaque. To sit and reflect on that marble bench in the hall and think about the days that he played. You know something? I almost heard him.
It didn’t matter if he never won a World Series, in 2013 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contribution to world peace and culture and that my friends is the most important award anyone can ever achieve. To be remembered and honoured as a humanitarian, gentleman and a true representation of what humanity has to offer. That was Ernie Banks.
There were no scandals, there was only enthusiasm and genuine love for the game of baseball.
Never in the history of the game has any athlete represented their team with such dignity and grace as “Mr. Cub” Ernie Banks.
He reminded players, fans and folks like myself who only knew the legend, that it was just a game. Most importantly, and this goes beyond the diamond and baseball, he reminded us all how to be human.
Ernie taught us how to carry ourselves in the workplace. How to care passionately about our friends, our families and even through struggling times, sometimes,”Let’s play two!”
So, the best tribute that the Cubs can pay to their hero Ernie Banks this year, would be to go out and win it all.
Ernie Banks presence will be felt in the streets and the stands as Eddie Vedder sang,”Someday we’ll go all the way” We can bet that Ernie will be smiling that infectious grin.