Awarded: September 2009
(b. Jan. 31, 1931)
Ernie Banks, nicknamed “Mr. Cub,” signed with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League in 1950. He broke into the Major Leagues in 1953 with the Cubs and was the team's first black player. He played for the Cubs his entire career, starting at shortstop and moving to first base. With 512 career home runs and a gold glove, the 11-time all-star was respected at the plate as well as on the field. Banks won the National League Most Valuable Player Award twice, in 1958 and 1959. He holds several Chicago Cubs team records, including most extra-base hits (1,009), games played (2,528), at-bats (9,421) and total bases (4,706). Banks retired as a player in 1971 and was hired by the Cubs as a coach. In 1973, he filled in as manager for one and a half innings. He thus became the first African-American to manage the Cubs, though he was never officially employed as the team’s manager. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame (external link) in 1977. In 1982, Banks made Cubs history again, when he became the first Cub to have his number retired.