Banks, a two-time Most Valuable Player for some of the worst Chicago Cubs teams ever back in the 1950s, will be forever remembered for his ability to play ball with cheer and fun even if the end result was a collection of losses.
HE REMAINS THE image of “Mr. Cub” forevermore, particularly since the other Cubs stars who might usurp that label – 19th Century star Cap Anson whose racial hang-ups were the reason baseball went for so long as a segregated sport and Sammy Sosa whose alleged steroid experimentation taints all those home runs – are people that many Cubs fans would rather forget.
Banks was just a week shy of turning 84, and didn’t seem to have regrets about his life – which essentially amounted to living off his reputation as a ballplayer that ended some 44 years ago. Although it was intriguing to see back in 2013 when President Barack Obama presented Banks with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
How many times have we seen rain-delay video of grainy footage of Banks’ 500th home run back in 1971? How many more times will we see it recycled in coming days?
For the record, Mayor Rahm Emanuel was the first politician to try to gain himself favorable attention by issuing a statement praising Banks’ memory. Although I expect many more statements to come flowing from the egos of political people in coming hours.
WITH REGARDS TO death, I couldn’t also help but notice Chicago White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, who used the team’s fan convention this weekend to say on Friday that he wishes the Cubs a World Series success, “after I die.”
The Chicago Sun-Times speculated it might have been a pot shot at the Cubs on account of Cubs owner Tom Ricketts using his team’s fan convention last weekend to wisecrack about White Sox attendance.
But it has me wondering how many Cubs fans will now be wishing for the passing of Reinsdorf – who is 78. Or maybe it's a sign that Reinsdorf will live on and on to the point where even White Sox fans will be eager to see him move on?
Meanwhile, the concept of the sunniest disposition former ballplayer in Chicago now passes to “Mr. White Sox” himself, Minnie Minoso – who at age 89 is probably still up in his mind for an at-bat or two! Too bad he won’t be able to contemplate Hall of Fame induction come July.