Friday, January 23, 2015

Let's play two

In sad news, legendary Chicago Cub, Ernie Banks, has passed at 83. On the bright side, Ernie’s chances of seeing the Cubs win the World Series are still about the same.

Ernie Banks is arguably the most positive and least bitter person who ever lived. Which is amazing enough by itself, but even more amazing when you realize he had every reason to be bitter.

Born to abject poverty in Texas, drafted in the Army for the Korean war where he seriously hurt his knee in basic training. Played through the prejudice in the Negro Leagues. Then playing for a Chicago team that never once made it to the playoffs. He was so athletic, he played for the Harlem Globetrotters for a while.

Can you imagine the hue and cry today from a gold glove-winning shortstop in his prime being asked to move to first base? Ernie moved with a smile, as he did everything, because it was for the good of the team.

When I grew up outside of Chicago in the Sixties, if a Little League baseball player did not stick his bat straight up in the air, like Ernie Banks, we knew they were an easy out. 

Had the honor of talking to the great man at the Louisville Slugger museum opening in 1996. As star struck as I was, Ernie Banks could not have been more sincere and kind. Granted he was sincerely more interested in my cousin Jack's beautiful wife, Becky, but sincere all the same. 

After talking with the great man for a good ten minutes, we, Jack, Becky and me, got in the elevator and I turned to them and yelled;

"Holy sh*t, we just talked to Ernie Banks."

Ernie Banks almost missed playing Major League Baseball baseball due to prejudice. He played for a team that always missed the playoffs. He missed the big money in baseball. He missed the chance to play in the World Series.

How could someone who missed so much be so missed?