MLB Hall-of-Famer, Mr. Cub Ernie Banks dead at 83
(Chicago Tribune) CHICAGO, Illinois – The lawyer for the family of Chicago Cubs great Ernie Banks said Sunday that the legendary player died Friday after suffering a heart attack, just a week short of his 84th birthday.
A public memorial for Banks will held from Wednesday morning through Saturday at Daley Plaza.
Banks passed away Friday at 83 after a storied 19-year playing career and 40-plus years as an ambassador for baseball and the city of Chicago. At a news conference Sunday, his widow, Liz, spoke briefly and introduced family attorney Mark Bogen, who read a short statement and declined to take questions.
Known worldwide as “Mr. Cub,” Banks became the Cubs first African-American player on Sept. 17, 1953, and went on to become a two-time National League Most Valuable Player. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977. In 2013, he received a Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of his goodwill. At the time, he equated the medal to the Nobel Peace Prize.
Bogen praised Banks for his contributions inside and outside of baseball, including support for the military, gay rights, kids with disabilities and numerous charities.
“Ernie Banks was a wonderful husband, a great father and grandfather,” Bogen said.
“One of his favorite quotes was, ‘Life is a song. Sing it. Life is a game. Play it. Life is a challenge. Meet it. Life is a dream. Realize it.’”
The family also started a Facebook page called Ernie Banks Remembered.
“He loved people and wanted to hear their stories,” Bogen said.
The statue of Banks that was removed last fall from outside Wrigley Field has returned to Chicago to be used for the public memorial, said Brent Harris, proprietor of the Kalamazoo shop where the statue was being refurbished. New bolts were added in order for the statue to be mounted in Daley Plaza this week from Wednesday morning through Saturday. In 2008, Banks became the first player in Cubs history to be honored with a statue at Wrigley.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel called Banks a friend who was a great ambassador for the city.
“We are bringing Ernie’s statue to Daley Plaza to honor not just one of the best ballplayers of all time, but a great man who made our city proud from the day we first met him in 1953,” Emanuel said.
Tom Ricketts, chairman of the Cubs, said Banks loved his fans as much as they loved him.
“We couldn’t think of a better way to honor Ernie than to allow those fans a way to pay their final respects to this great man,” Ricketts said.