Ernie Banks

Ernie Banks. Alias, "Mr. Cub". Ernie was the Chicago Cub's first black player and quickly became a fan favorite. And why not. After joining the Cubs in 1953, Ernie Banks won the National League's Most Valuable Player Award in 1958 and 1959.

Banks came to the Major Leagues as a short stop, but later moved to first base. He actually played more games at first.

The story goes that Ernie wasn't interested in baseball as a kid. His father would give him pocket change just to play catch with him. He played softball, football and basketball in high school.

Of course his love for baseball increased and at the age of 17, Ernie Banks signed with a Negro League barnstorming team for $15.00 per game. He later signed with the Negro League Kansas City Monarchs.

Ernie returned to the Monarchs after two years in the military. The Chicago Cubs signed Ernie away from the Monarchs in September of 1953 and sent him straight to the big leagues. He became the Cubs starting short stop in 1954.

In 1955, Banks switched to a lighter bat. That season he hit .295 with 44 home runs and 117 Runs batted in. He also set a record by smacking five grand slams that season.

From 1955 to 1960, Ernie Banks hit more home runs than anyone. On May 12, 1970, Ernie Banks hit home run number 500 at Wrigley Field. He retired after the 1971 season with 512 homers.

The Cubs raised a pinstriped pennant with number 14 on it to honor Ernie. He was the first Cubs player to have his number retired.

Ernie Banks was inducted into Baseball's Hall Of Fame in 1977.

Watch Ernie Banks Hit Number 500

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