Ernie Banks (1931-2015) knew a lot about being a good sport. Banks was one of the best hitters in baseball over the course of his 19-year Major League career and picked up back-to-back National League Most Valuable Player awards in 1958 and 1959. He entered baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1977 on the strength of 14 all-star appearances and 512 career home runs. He was a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and named by the Library of Congress as an American Living Legend.
But Banks was best known as “Mr. Cub,” a legendary icon of the beleaguered Chicago team. Thus, the most notable absence among Banks’ list of awards and accolades is a World Series appearance. The Cubs haven’t been to a World Series since 1945; they haven’t won since 1908. The team never even reached the playoffs during Banks’ illustrious career. Despite this, Banks is remembered for his infectious smile, charming personality, and “let’s play two” eagerness.
“The only way to prove that you’re a good sport is to lose.”
[UPDATED – Jan 23, 2015]
We’re sad to learn that Ernie Banks has died. We’re reposting this today in his honor. He was 83.