Earnest “Ernie” Banks

Ernie Banks was the first African American baseball player for the Chicago Cubs and the first African American manager in Major League Baseball. Banks played short stop and first base from 1953-1971 for the cubs.

Ernest Banks was born on January 31st, 1931 in Dallas, Texas. Banks father wanted him to excel at baseball, but Ernest was good as basketball, track, and football. Banks was 17 when he signed acontract with the Amarillo Colts, an all-black exhibition team for $15 per game. Banks later signed with the Kansas City Monarchs and the left to serve for two tears in the U.S Army during the Korean War. Banks came back and signed a contract with the Chicago Cubs and became the first African American baseball player for the team.

Banks shined in the spotlight with the cubs, throughout 19 seasons , he became an All-star 14 times, National League MVP 2 times, and accomplished 1 Gold Glove Award. He had 512 homeruns, 2581 hits, and 1,636 runs batted in. In 1977 Ernie Banks was titled into the Hall of Fame.

Ernie retired as a player in 1971, but was then hired in as a coach for the Cubs. May 8th Ernie Banks became the first African American MLB Manager when the manager at the time, Whitey Lockman, was ejected from the game. The Cubs ended up winning the game 3-2 in 12 innings.

1982, the Chicago Cubs retired Ernie’s number, 14, the first number to be retired by the organization. There is a statue in the front of Wrigley Field placed in 2008. President Obama gave Banks the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a White House Ceremony.  Ernie Banks died in Chicago on January 23, 2015 with his wife and daughter by his side.

Sources:

Lew Freedman, African American Pioneers of Baseball (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2007); Alan Ross, Cubs Pride: For the Love of Ernie, Fergie & Wrigley (Nashville, TV: Cumberland House, 2005); “‘Mr. Cub’ Ernie Banks Dies at 83,” CNN, http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/23/us/ernie-banks-obit/