Thru Cub Eyes: Ernie Banks
In honor of Mr. Cub’s 75th birthday, we offer this very special edition of Thru Cub Eyes, from the fine compilation of Cub anecdotes, put together by Carrie Muskat in Banks to Sandberg to Grace.. Happy Birthday, Ernie. You remain the most loved Cub of all time.
Many of the players didn’t quite understand my own philosophy. I believe in forgive and forget, and keep your mouth shut and listen to whatever somebody is trying to tell you and you can learn something. I tell my children that. But it was just misinterpreted that Leo disliked me. He made my life better, he made me a better player.
I remember in St. Louis, I hit two home runs and drove in seven runs one time against Steve Carlton. I mean, there’s many things I was proud of. I was the oldest player on the team at 39 years old. Most people wouldn’t have even been on the team at that time. But [Leo] inspired me to reach inside of myself and do more. And that’s what I did….It was just inspiration to let somebody know that somebody in your life — it could be a wife, it could be a manager, it could be a coach — could light your fire, that would stimulate your life and that’s what happened to me when Leo came here from ’66 to ’72.
Another time, one of the most touching things that ever happened to me, in New York, we were losing the game and Leo sent up Jim Hickman to pinch-hit for me. As we were passing Jim said “”Ernie, I’m sorry for doing this.” He apologized for pinch-hitting for me. Leo didn’t hear it, nobody else heard it. I didn’t want to embarrass him. I just looked up and said “You can do it.” And I went on back to the dugout. It didn’t bother me. What I’m saying is, embarrassment and unkind things that we must all learn from really can make us better — better people, better individuals.
“Let’s Play Two.” That started in ’69. Like most things, it just kind of come out. It was July and over 100 degrees and everybody was kind of down a little bit. I came in the locker room and Jimmy Enright was there and alot of writers were around, and I said “Boy, this is a great day. Let’s play two.”
They all woke up and looked around and it stayed with me for a long while. Then we played a double-header in Houston, and me and Lou Brock fell out in the firs game of the double-header. It was about 120 degrees in Houston. I hit a double and faintedand Lou Brock hit a triple and fainted. They took us out and ever since then, most of my friends around the league always remember that. “You always want to play two, but what happened that day in Houston?”
The great joy in my life is to come out to Wrigley Field now. Coming out here is better than going to a psychiatrist. It’s real therapy for me. The other parks are OK, but it’s special coming here. The people are enthusiastic. They really love this park and they love the players and they love everything about it. It’s the epicenter of all our lives and that’s why I enjoy coming here so much.
I wasn’t around when they talked about the money part of the game. You approach playing at Wrigley Field for the love of it, and the other part is the friendship you can build when you’re here. The friendships you make while you are here are much greater than all the money you will make in your life.
So now, I want my ashes to be spread over Wrigley Field with the wind blowing out.