CHICAGO (CBSNewYork) — Baseball legend Ernie Banks died Friday night at the age of 83, according to a family attorney.
Banks was a longtime Chicago Cubs icon who came to be known as “Mr. Cub.” The announcement of his death came Friday evening from Chicago lawyer Mark Bogen, who said he was authorized by Banks’ widow to confirm the news to the media, CBS Chicago reported.
Bogen said a news conference was planned for Sunday at noon in Chicago and declined further comment, CBS Chicago reported.
“Words cannot express how important Ernie Banks will always be to the Chicago Cubs, the city of Chicago and Major League Baseball. He was one of the greatest players of all time,” Tom Ricketts, chairman of the Cubs, said in a prepared statement. “He was a pioneer in the major leagues. And more importantly, he was the warmest and most sincere person I’ve ever known.”
“My family and I grieve the loss of such a great and good-hearted man, but we look forward to celebrating Ernie’s life in the days ahead,” Ricketts added.
Born in January 1931, Banks was an infielder who spent his entire career with the Chicago Cubs, from 1953 to 1971. He was an 14-time All-Star and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977, his first year of eligibility, CBS Chicago recalled.
Banks hit 512 career home runs, which is tied for 22nd all-time. He was a career .274 hitter and had 1,636 RBIs, 29th all-time, CBS Chicago recalled.
Banks stands as the Cubs’ franchise leader in games played and won the National League MVP in 1958 and 1959. He ranks second in Cubs franchise history in home runs, RBIs and hits (2,583).
Over the course of his career, Banks was a fan favorite, CBS Chicago recalled. That was a testament to his determined play and infectious positive attitude as the best player on teams that were often bad. One of his famous lines was “Let’s play two,” the root of which was his joy to take the diamond in front of the Wrigley Field faithful.
But for all of Banks’ effort and brilliance, he never made the postseason once in his career. He almost did in 1969, before the Cubs infamously blew a big lead over the Mets by losing 17 of their last 25 games, CBS Chicago recalled.
In 1982, Banks had his No. 14 jersey retired, the first Cubs player to receive such an honor. In 2008, the Cubs unveiled a statue outside Wrigley Field that honored him, CBS Chicago recalled.
In 2013, President Barack Obama awarded Banks the Presidential Medal of Freedom.