Baseball great Ernie Banks dies at 83
Washington, Jan 25 (IANS/EFE)
Baseball great Ernie Banks, a two-time winner of the National League Most Valuable Player Award as a member of the Chicago Cubs, has died, the team said in a statement. He was 83. The power-hitting infielder, who died Friday night, got his start as a professional in the Negro Leagues in 1950 and, after spending two years in the military, joined the Cubs in 1953 and remained with that team for the rest of his 19 years in the Major Leagues.
Although the Cubs had losing records for most of his career and he never competed in the postseason, Banks was a standout performer and was cherished by the fans at Wrigley Field for his love of the game, best expressed in his catchphrase "It's a beautiful day for a ballgame... Let's play two!"
"Mr. Cub" hit 512 career home runs as a shortstop and first baseman, including belting 40 or more in five seasons, was an 11-time All Star, and won consecutive MVP awards in 1958 and 1959.
"Words cannot express how important Ernie Banks will always be to the Chicago Cubs, the city of Chicago and Major League Baseball," Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts said Saturday, without indicating the cause of death.
"He was a pioneer in the major leagues. And more importantly, he was the warmest and most sincere person I've ever known."
Banks was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977, his first year of eligibility.