On January 23, 2015, at the age of 83, baseball lost one of its most loved and valued players, Ernie Banks. According to the Chicago Tribune, he was “one of baseball’s most ebullient and optimistic ambassadors.” Nicknamed "Mr. Cub" and "Mr. Sunshine," he was known as the greatest power-hitting shortstop of the 20th century.
He was most well known for saying, “There’s sunshine, fresh air, and the team’s behind us. Let’s play two." before every game. Banks came into the baseball organization during the time of Jim Crow laws, and despite much discrimination and adversity he became the first black player in Chicago Cubs’ history.
During his 19 seasons between shortstop and first base, he was voted an All-Star 11 times, MVP twice and is considered one of the best hitters of all time. Ernie Banks was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977, received the Living Legend award from the Library of Congress in 2009 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.
President Barack Obama awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Hall of Fame baseball player Ernie Banks in the East Room at the White House on November 20, 2013 in Washington, DC.
Goodbye, Mr. Cub, let's play two.