Cubs Legend Ernie Banks Dies at Age 83

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJanuary 24, 2015

AP Images

Legendary Chicago Cubs player and Baseball Hall of Famer Ernie Banks has died at the age of 83. 

According to Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune, Banks' wife Liz confirmed the news of her husband's passing.

"Ernie Banks, one of baseball’s most ebullient and optimistic ambassadors, died Friday, his wife, Liz, confirmed," Mitchell wrote.

On Sunday, the Cubs noted the cause of Banks' death, citing Banks' family attorney:

NBC Nightly News tweeted out this statement from Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts about Banks' legacy:

The Cubs and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel have confirmed they will be hosting a public memorial for Banks on Wednesday at the Daley Plaza according to Fred Mitchell and Geoff Ziezulewicz of the Chicago Tribune.

MLB released a graphic of Ron Santo and Harry Caray greeting Banks in heaven:

Few players in professional sports are as synonymous with one franchise as Banks is with the Cubs. His nickname is "Mr. Cub" after spending all 19 of his MLB seasons with the Chicago franchise. He held the franchise record for home runs when he retired (512), though the mark was broken by Sammy Sosa in 2004. 

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Banks, who posted a career .274/.330/.500 slash line, was named National League MVP in 1958 and 1959, while finishing in the top 10 on three other occasions. He also made 11 All-Star teams but holds the distinction of having the most games played without a playoff appearance. 

After retiring, Banks was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2013. The video embedded below includes Banks talking about receiving the honor, via the White House:

President Obama, who famously roots for the Chicago White Sox, said this about Banks upon bestowing him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, via Carrie Muskat of MLB.com:

That’s Mr. Cub — the man who came up through the Negro Leagues, making $7 a day, and became the first black player to suit up for the Cubs and one of the greatest hitters of all time. In the process, Ernie became known as much for his 512 home runs as for his cheer and his optimism, and his eternal faith that someday the Cubs would go all the way.

Obama released the following statement on Saturday regarding Banks' passing, according to SportsCenter's Twitter feed:

The list of accomplishments from Banks' career are too vast to list here. He was without a doubt one of the best players in baseball history, on the short list of best and most important players in Cubs history. The man who came up with "Let's play two!" left an indelible impression on anyone who watched him play. 

Even in his post-playing days, Banks remained a fixture at Wrigley Field during the season. The Cubs have lost an icon, and the world has lost a great man. 

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