Monday, September 2, 2013

Ernie Banks


Ernie Banks, 2008
Lou Cella
Wrigley Field
1060 West Addison Street

            Artist Lou Cella used Ernest Clifton “Ernie” Banks at-bat against Hall of Famer Warren Spahn on August 29, 1959 as the inspiration for this 300-pound statue of the power-hitting shortstop. Banks hit a grand slam off of Spahn that day so the choice is a fitting tribute to the player who set record for grand slams in a single season (five) in 1955 that stood for more than 30 years.
            Fabricated from steel, wood, fiberglass and bronze, the piece was unveiled on March 31, 2008 with Banks (born 1931) in attendance, along with hundreds of Cubs fans, Hall of Famer Henry “Hank” Aaron and former teammates Billy Williams and Ron Santo.  In addition to being the first African American to play for the Cubs, Banks’ number 14 was the first one retired in 1982. Banks received two Most Valuable Player awards, in 1958 and 1959, hit 512 home runs and earned 1636 RBIs during his 19-year career. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977.
            Banks, known as “Mr. Cub,” played his entire career under one mayor (Richard J. Daley), one owner (P.K. Wrigley) and in one park (Wrigley Field). His enthusiasm for the game comes through in his famous phrase “It’s a beautiful day for a ballgame. . . Let’s play two!”

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