"Let's Play Two!"
Today is January 31, 2007, it is also Mr. Cub's 76th birthday. The greatest Cub player off all time came up with the Cubs in September 1953 and was a shining star on the awful Cub teams of the 1950's and early 60's. Banks won back-to-back NL MVP's in 1958 and 59.
I don't think I can put the Hall of Famer into proper perspective. He has meant so much to the Cubs organization and Cub fans for 54 years. As most of you know Banks was the Cubs first black player. When he arrived with the Cubs the club record for career homeruns was 231 by Gabby Hartnett. Banks hit his 231st career homerun at the start of his seventh full season with the Cubs in 1960. He went on to hit 512 career homeruns (a record since broken by Sammy Sosa). Ernie has been a great ambassador for the Cubs and baseball since he retired at the end of the 1971 season.
There is only one Mr. Cub. Happy Birthday Ernie Banks!
UPDATE: Thanks to e-mailer poppopfishy for sending me an e-mail about Gene Baker. I mentioned above that Ernie was the Cubs first black player. That is partly right. But, I really should have mentioned Baker when I made that comment. You see, the Cubs signed Baker first. But Ernie made the majors first breaking the Cubs color barrier on September 17, 1953. 3 days later Baker joined Banks making his debut on September 20, 1953.