Icons of the Ivy: Ernie Banks
When you carry the nickname “Mr. Cub,” you’re sure to find yourself among the franchise’s Hall of Fame.
Ernie Banks is one of the most recognizable names in franchise lore, known to generations upon generations of Cubs fans.
He was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot in 1977 after a storied 19-season career with the Cubs spanning from 1953-1971.
Banks played more than 2,500 games with the franchise, hitting 512 home runs and batting .274/.330/.500 (.830 OPS). He racked up 67.7 WAR while moving around the diamond for the Cubs (he started his career at shortstop and moved to first base in 1962.
Banks won the National League MVP Award in back-to-back seasons from 1958-59, leading the league in RBI each year (129 in 1958, 143 in 1959). He paced the Senior Circuit in homers in 1958 (47) as part of a 4-year stretch where he hit at least 40 longballs in each season.
The Dallas native was a 14-time All-Star, won a Gold Glove in 1960 and drove in 100+ runs 8 different times. He led the league in games played 6 out of 7 years from 1954-60.
“More important than his numbers, however, was his social impact on the game and the city he loved,” said team historian Ed Hartig. “In 1953, Ernie Banks integrated the Chicago Cubs and became the first African-American to play for the team. For the next 60 years, Ernie was an ambassador for the city, the ballpark, the Cubs and for the game he loved.”
Banks still holds the title for most games played in a Cubs uniform and ranks 2nd in hits, homers and RBI.
The Cubs retired Banks’ No. 14 jersey in 1982 — the first player to have his number retired by the franchise.