Baseball fans are mourning one of the greats. Chicago Cubs Hall of Fame slugger Ernie Banks has died at the age of 83. The former player, lovingly known as “Mr. Cub,” passed away in Chicago on Friday, Jan. 23. No further details were given.
“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,” Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said in a statement on Saturday, Jan. 23, via the Associated Press. “He was a pioneer in the major leagues. And more importantly, he was the warmest and most sincere person I’ve ever known.”
He continued: “Approachable, ever optimistic and kind hearted, Ernie Banks is and always will be Mr. Cub. 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.”
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama also paid tribute to the athlete. “As a Hall-of-Famer, Ernie was an incredible ambassador for baseball, and for the city of Chicago. He was beloved by baseball fans everywhere, including Michelle, who, when she was a girl, used to sit with her dad and watch him play on TV. And in 2013, it was my honor to present Ernie with the Presidential Medal of Freedom,” POTUS said in a statement on Saturday. “Somewhere, the sun is shining, the air is fresh, his team’s behind him, and Mr. Class — ‘Mr. Cub’ — is ready to play two.”
Banks was the first African-American player to join the Chicago Cubs. During the course of his career from 1953 to 1971, he hit 512 home runs, won the MVP twice, was an 11-time All-Star, and two-time National League Most Valuable Player. In 2013, the Dallas native shortstop was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work in sports.
Banks is survived by his wife, Liz. Since hearing the news of his death, fans have been stopping by Wrigley Field to drop off baseball memorabilia, candles, and flowers.
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