Life and Times of Ernie Banks

Ernie Banks is a baseball legend, the first African American to play for the Chicago Cubs and the first black manager in Major League Baseball. He is known for his skills at bat and in the field, as well as his sunny, positive attitude and love for the game. Click to see pictures from throughout this memorable figure's life.

22 photos
Ernie Banks of the Chicago Cubs holds his grand slam bat and ball after setting a new record.
Getty Images
The first African American to play for the Chicago Cubs, Ernie Banks is a baseball legend. Following his days as shortstop and first baseman, Banks also became the first black manager in Major League Baseball. Click to see more from the life and times of Ernie Banks.
Getty Images
Banks was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. He graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in 1950 as a letterman and standout in football, basketball, soccer and track.
Getty Images
Banks was signed by the Chicago Cubs in 1953. He was the first African American player to join the team.
In 1959, Ernie Banks made room on his mantle for a new trophy after being named the National League's Most Valuable Player for a second successive year. Banks was the first shortstop in the history of the National League to win the MVP award in back-to-back seasons.
ZUMA Press
In this family photo from 1963, Ernie Banks holds twin boys Joel and Jerry, while wife Eloyce craddles their baby daughter, Jan. The couple were married for 23 years.
Getty Images
For 19 years, Ermie Banks delighted Wringley Field fans with his long and frequent home runs. In total, he hit more than 500, five times batting over 40 in a single season.
Here, Banks is shown with students at Parker Elementary School in Chicago. The slugger encouraged youngsters to continue their education.
Ernie Banks set the record of most grand slams in one season -- hitting 5 in 1955. The record stood for over 30 years.
Getty Images
Shown here doing an interview with Tony Kubek from NBC, Ernie Banks was named to the All-Star team 11 times. Baseball fans will always remember him as the ballplayer who said, "What a great day for baseball. Let's play two!"
Cubs fans affectionately refer to Ernie Banks as "Mr. Cub," for his years as a powerful player on the team.
Getty Images
In August 1982, the Cubs retired Ernie Banks' number 14. His jersey was the first to be retired by the team and currently flies on game days from the left field foul pole. Banks is one of only six Chicago Cubs players to have their number retired.
Getty Images
After retiring from playing in 1971, Banks became a minor league instructor in the Cubs system. Six years after his retirement, he was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Getty Images
Banks, shown here before throwing the first pitch at the playoff opener at Wrigley Filed in 1984, was not only the first African American to play for the Chicago Cubs but also the first black manager in the Major League.
Pictured here during an All Star Legends and Celebrity softball game in 2004, Ernie Banks hit 512 home runs during his 19 year career with the Cubs. He hit more than 40 home runs in a season 5 times.
Ernie Banks is seen here at the 2005 Legends Ball, an award ceremony hosted by Oprah honoring those who paved the way in arts, entertainment and civil rights.
Getty Images
Ernie Banks was a player who truly loved the game and will always be remembered for his positive energy and excellent play alike.
In 2011, Banks received the "MLB Beacon of Life" award. One of the most popular player in the history of the Chicago Cubs franchise, Ernie Banks was the best power-hitting shortstop in baseball in the 1950s and early 1960s.
The 400-pound bronze statue of Chicago Cubs great Ernie Banks was reinstalled outside Wrigley Field in 2011 after going through a restoration. His catchphrase, "Beautiful day for a ball game…Let's play two!" is engraved on the foothold.
Ernie Banks dances with Laura Ricketts, co-owner of the Cubs, during a brief ceremony honoring Banks before the Cubs' baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013, in Chicago.
President Barack Obama awards Baseball Hall of Famer Ernie Banks with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington.
Chicago Cubs Hall of Fame infielder Ernie Banks was introduced during the Cubs' annual winter baseball convention Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, in Chicago.
Contact Us