Behind the Ivy and Anno have both chimed in on the thing that is the most prominent in Cubs Nation today. Sometime in the evening of Friday January 23, 2015 the Chicago Cubs lost arguably the greatest player in the history of the franchise, ambassador of the game of baseball and overall incredible human being, Ernie “Mr. Cub” Banks.
I was watching TV with my wife when I asked her to turn to Comcast Sports Net to see what the latest news about my favorite teams for the day. Much to my shock and I am sure everyone else, CSN had a “Breaking News Alert” that Ernie Banks had died at the age of 83 years young. My wife basically said to me, “Old People Die and He Was Old.” Something I would expect from someone who is not a lifelong Cubs fan. I continued to watch the coverage and listen to all the interviews that CSN was conducting live and struggled to keep my composure at this most devastating news.
I was born during the final seven years of Ernie’s baseball career and as I grew up and learned more and more about what it was to be a Cubs fan, Ernie Banks is always at the top of my discussion list of players I learned about and as we all say, my team. I never did get to see Ernie play the National Pastime yet, there was always a lot more to Ernie than his talent as a player. Listening to interviews conducted with Ernie, one quickly learns about a very proud yet humble individual. Ernie kept an eye on things with the Cubs and always found time to talk with the fans no matter what. Ernie had this aura about him that made it easy for people to talk to him and made people feel that he genuinely cared about and for them. That is the thing that is so awesome about Ernie, Ernie did care for and about people everywhere. There are people out there that will agree with me (and I am not that religious) that Chicago, the Chicago Cubs, Cubs Nation, Major League Baseball and the World overall lost an angel last night.
I was fortunate to meet Ernie Banks back in January 2007 at the Cubs Convention. It was my first time attending the Convention and I got to meet up with the late Stephanie Leathers who was the publisher and editor of the Bleacher Banter. There was a raffle that was a scratch away that gave fans the ability to get in a special player line during the Convention to get their autograph and the line was limited in the amount of winners. I was fortunate to have Ernie Banks on my scratch off. Prior to the Convention I heard an interview that Ernie gave about playing golf out in Southern California where I had used to live prior to Nebraska where I am currently. I do not remember the details other than Ernie was always ready to hit the links at any time. When I got up to meet Ernie and have a baseball signed, I asked Ernie if we could meet the next time I was back out in SoCal and hit the links as they say. Ernie stated as a matter of fact, “Let’s Go Hit The Course Now, I’m Ready!!” We all had a great laugh as it was a cold windy winter day and I am not sure that I could have lasted to long on a Chicagoland golf course. The baseball that Ernie signed, my mom asked for and has promised me that the ball will be left to my son Sam (he’s 9 years old now) when she passes on. I am pretty sure that Sam will understand the worth of that item by time he is old enough to really enjoy it!
So am I sad that Ernie Banks has passed away and will no longer be a fixture at Cub events, games or what have you. The great thing, is that it is time to celebrate this man’s most incredible life as a human being. Ernie Banks is one of those special people who had talent to make it to the top level of a professional sport however, totally transcended the sport because he was that incredible and amazing as a human being to our entire World. My condolences to his wife Liz and to Ernie’s entire family. We of Cubs Nation miss you already, your infectious smile and amazing philosophy towards life! Thank you for everything you stood for and being a part of the Chicago Cubs!!! R.I.P. #14