Today, there is crying in baseball…in Cubs Nation and far beyond. Mr. Cub – Ernie Banks – has moved on to the heavenly hall of fame.
As a life long Cubs fan, my heart breaks not only at his passing but at the fact that he died still waiting for that Cubs World Series. In today’s baseball world of big egos, steroids and other problems, Ernie Banks was a genuine class act…a true gentleman who started his career in a time when players of color were still a rarity.
He was known for his optimism – Let’s Play Two – and he never wavered even when his ’69 Cubs team broke our hearts. He was proud to be a Cub and loved the fans as much as we loved him.
Back in the days of my broadcasting career, I had the honor of meeting Mr. Cub. He was traveling around the country promoting 4-H – a group I had also belonged to in middle school. I was sent out to interview him about that mission…and a young, budding shortstop that had just been added to the Cubs line up – Shawon Dunston.
Banks was gracious…and very sweet. Until that day, I had never asked for an autograph of an interview subject. But my Mom was (and is) a bigger Cubs fan than I am. I couldn’t leave without that one request. Ernie not only signed an autograph for my mom, he also asked me to wait a minute as he jotted one off for me.
A priceless memory for a Cubs fan of any age.
Someday….someday, I hope in my lifetime. The Cubs will make it to the World Series and there will no longer be a Mr. Cub to throw out the first pitch, sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and to root, root, root for the Cubbies like the rest of us.
Rest In Peace, Mr. Cub…and thank you.
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