Ernie Banks – 1953 to 1971
We saved the best for last -Ernie Banks, Mr. Cub. Ernie Banks started off his career as a short stop for the Chicago Cubs and did see some games in third base and in the outfield. While Banks was an excellent short stop with his natural instincts and athletic ability, the movement from side-to-side while fielding were wearing Banks’ knees down a bit. In what would probably be a decision made to prolong Mr. Cubs career, a move needed to be made.
Initially, Banks was moved to left field-but that move didn’t last long. After twenty-three games in the outfield, Banks would move to first base. In what Banks thought would be a temporary move, it was decided that he would remain there for an indefinite amount of time. Banks love for the game – I’m sure helped the transition that was made from once being at maybe the most demanding defensive spot on the field at short stop to first base, a little bit easier to handle.
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We all know what Banks brought to the Cubs at the plate. His batting numbers are one of the biggest reasons for his nomination to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Being a member of the prestigious 500 home run club, Banks also has 14 All-Star Game appearances, two National League MVPs (1958, 1959), two-time National League leader in home runs (1958, 1960) and he led the National League in runs batted in (1958, 1959).
While his contributions to the Cubs at the plate and in the field are considered among the best to ever wear a Cubs uniform, it was his leadership, enthusiasm and love for the game that set Banks apart from everyone else. Banks was everything you wanted out of a leader and as an ambassador for your team.
Cubs career stats: .274 batting average, 512 home runs, 1,636 runs batted in