January 2015

1/31 Memories of Ernie

Cubs radio broadcaster Pat Hughes was among the hundreds who attended Ernie Banks memorial service on Saturday at Fourth Presbyterian Church.

“He just had an amazing outlook on life,” Hughes said of Banks, who would’ve celebrated his 84th birthday Saturday. “I think he woke up every day trying to make new friends. ‘I’m going to meet as many new friends as I can, I’m going to make as many people happy as I possibly can. He was a rare person.'”

What will it be like at Wrigley Field without Mr. Cub?

“I’ll miss him,” Hughes said. “I’ll miss him on Opening Day, I’ll miss him when the Cubs are in a pennant race. I’ll miss him a lot.”

Any favorite memories?

“We were at a party one time, there’s 100 people there,” Hughes said. “I’m with my daughters. Ernie tells all the kids, ‘The best thing you can do when you get back to the hotel, rub your daddy’s feet.’ He told every kid there. My daughters come back giggling to me, ‘Daddy, Ernie Banks said we should rub your feet.’ Everyone in the whole room is laughing about Ernie. He brought everyone together. It was a funny, off the wall, quirky thing to do, but it spread joy and that’s what Ernie loved to do.”

And he will be missed.

“He was Mr. Cub,” Hughes said. “Whoever came up with that phrase was a genius. He was Mr. Cub, the greatest ballplayer statistically. He was kind of like the heart of the Chicago Cubs. He’ll be missed forever.”

— Carrie Muskat

1/31 “We’re here to thank God for Ernie Banks”

Instead of mourning Ernie Banks on Saturday, his teammates, family and friends urged everyone to celebrate the life of Mr. Cub on what would’ve been his 84th birthday.

“We have come here to thank God for Ernie Banks,” Rev. Shannon Kershner said in her welcome statements.

The Fourth Presbyterian Church was nearly full for Banks’ memorial service on Saturday, and the crowd included former Cubs teammates Billy Williams, Randy Hundley, Fergie Jenkins, and George Altman, plus Hall of Famers such as Hank Aaron, Reggie Jackson, Lou Brock and Andre Dawson. Also in the crowd were Kerry Wood, Anthony Rizzo, Sean Marshall, Jon Lieber, Minnie Minoso and Scott Sanderson.

Cubs broadcasters Len Kasper, Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer attended, as well as former Chicago Bulls great Bob Love, Blackhawks executives John McDonough and Jay Blunk, White Sox general manager Ken Williams, and former Cubs GM Jim Hendry. Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer were there, as well as Joe Torre, who represented Major League Baseball.

Banks’ twin sons, Joey and Jerry, each delivered personal tributes. Joey thanked his dad for letting them come to Wrigley Field, calling it “the best playground ever.”

“Move over Honus Wagner, there’s a new shortstop in heaven,” Joey Banks said.

Jerry wished his father happy birthday, and said the Wrigley family’s decision to purchase Banks’ contract from the Kansas City Monarchs was “the best $10,000 ever spent.”

“Who would’ve imagined you would become the icon of the great city of Chicago, representing not only Chicago but giving the fans love and devotion,” Jerry Banks said. “We’ve heard countless stories of interactions with fans. It makes our mourning his passing easier. For every tear we shed comes ten stories of laughter followed by, ‘That sounds like dad.'”

Jerry then shared three of his father’s favorite sayings to his children:

* “You learn more from losing than winning.”

* “I feel like Tony the Tiger. I feel great.”

* “How do you feel? I feel like I can fly.”

Following the nearly two-hour memorial service, a motorcade carrying the casket passed Banks’ statue in Daley Plaza and then headed north to Wrigley Field. The procession paused outside the ballpark’s marquee at Clark and Addison streets and fans applauded. The crews doing the renovation work at the 100-year-old ballpark also lined the streets to salute Banks one more time.

“He just had an amazing outlook on life,” radio broadcaster Pat Hughes said. “I think he woke up every day trying to make new friends. ‘I’m going to meet as many new friends as I can, I’m going to make as many people happy as I possibly can. he was a rare person.'”

Billy Williams paid homage to Banks by delivering a message for this year’s team.

“I know Ernie would put his stamp of approval on this — ‘The Cubs will win as a team in 2015,'” Williams said.

— Carrie Muskat

1/31 Mr. Cub


1/29 Billy, Fergie to speak at Ernie services

Hall of Famers Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins and Lou Brock, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will be among the speakers Saturday at the funeral service for Cubs legend Ernie Banks.

Saturday’s memorial service at Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 East Chestnut Street in downtown Chicago, will begin at 10 a.m. CT and will include remembrances, readings and tributes. The list also includes Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts,

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., will take part with a personal tribute, as well as John Rogers, a close friend of Banks. Banks’ twin sons, Jerry and Joey, also will have personal tributes.

Former manager Joe Torre, now chief baseball officer with Major League Baseball, will represent MLB.

Following the memorial service, the procession will embark on a route that will pass Banks’ statue in Daley Plaza and Wrigley Field. Because of the renovation work at Wrigley Field, fans who want to gather at the ballpark are asked to view the procession from the following locations: the southwest corner of Sheffield Avenue and Addison Street in front of the Captain Morgan Club; along the south side of Addison Street between Sheffield Avenue and Clark Street; or along the west side of Clark Street between Addison Street and Waveland Avenue.

At the end of Saturday’s service, the procession will leave the church and drive south on Michigan Avenue, west on Randolph Street, south on Clark Street and east on Washington Street, where it will pass the bronze statue in Daley Plaza.

The procession will then head to Lake Shore Drive and take the Belmont Avenue exit. The procession will head west on Belmont Avenue, northwest on Clark Street, north on Sheffield Avenue and west on Addison Street to Clark Street, where it will pass the Wrigley Field marquee.

Banks passed away last Friday; he would’ve celebrated his 84th birthday this Saturday. On Wednesday, Emanuel and Banks’ wife Liz placed a wreath at the base of the bronze statue of Mr. Cub, which has been relocated to Daley Plaza for a public memorial.

There will be limited public seating available for Saturday’s memorial service. Comcast SportsNet Chicago and WGN Radio will both broadcast the service live.

* Public visitation will be Friday from 12-8 p.m. CT at Fourth Presbyterian Church.

— Carrie Muskat

1/29 Baez won’t play in Series

Javier Baez will not play in the Caribbean Series, although the Cubs infielder apparently wanted to play. Baez was playing for Santurce, which won the Puerto Rican winter league championship. According to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez, Baez will not continue in the Caribbean Series, which begins Monday in Puerto Rico. Sources told Sanchez that Baez wanted to play but the Cubs shut him down. Position players are scheduled to report to Spring Training in Mesa, Ariz., on Feb. 24.

In 15 playoff games with Santurce, Baez batted .203 (13-for-64) with two doubles, four RBIs, and four walks. He struck out 18 times. Santurce, which is managed by former big leaguer Eduardo Perez, advanced by beating Mayaguez, 4-2, in the best-of-seven Puerto Rican championship series.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who is friends with Perez, watched Baez play Saturday and Sunday in Puerto Rico.

— Carrie Muskat

1/29 Comcast to carry Banks’ service

Comcast SportsNet Chicago will broadcast Ernie Banks Memorial Service live on Saturday, beginning at 9 a.m. CT. The service will be held at Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago. In addition, Comcast SportsNet’s digital home, CSNChicago.com, will also provide a live video stream of the memorial service in its entirety.

Comcast SportsNet’s coverage of the service will be hosted by the network’s Cubs pre/postgame studio team of David Kaplan and Todd Hollandsworth, with SportsNet Central’s Cubs beat reporter Kelly Crull and CSNChicago.com Cubs “Insider” Patrick Mooney providing on-site reports and interviews.

Fans of the Cubs Hall of Famer are urged to post their fondest memories throughout CSN’s coverage by utilizing the Twitter hashtag #MrCub.

1/28 Mr. Chicago


1/28 Salute to Mr. Cub


Ernie Banks’ wife Liz joins Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (who is behind wreath on left) in placing a wreath at the base of a statue of Mr. Cub in Daley Plaza.

(photo by Carrie Muskat/MLB.com)

1/28 Banks statue in Daley Plaza

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Ernie Banks’ wife Liz placed a red, white and blue wreath Wednesday at the base of a bronze statue for Mr. Cub, relocated to Daley Plaza for a public memorial.

“We all know Ernie was Mr. Cub and you don’t become Mr. Cub because you play a lot of baseball games or hit a lot of home runs,” said Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, who attended the brief ceremony. “You become Mr. Cub because you love the team, you love the fans, you love the ballpark more than anyone else.

“We all loved Ernie and we appreciate this opportunity for people to come by and pay their final respects to a great baseball player and more than anything, a great person,” Ricketts said.

The statue is now located near the Picasso statue in the outdoor plaza. Emanuel noted that some critics of the Picasso, which was dedicated in 1967, had actually lobbied for a statue of Banks at that time. Chicago City Alderman John Hoellen had immediately proposed replacing the 50-foot Picasso with a statue of Mr. Cub.

“When the Picasso was first put here, a lot of people didn’t like it,” Emanuel said. “They said, ‘What are we doing with that statue? Why don’t we have something like an Ernie Banks statue in Daley Plaza?’ So we’ve finally done that.”

The setting created a very appropriate Chicago backdrop, and people passing through the plaza stopped to take photos or pose for selfies of the statue. Some left flowers, signs and teddy bears.

“Ernie Banks was Mr. Cub and will always be known as Mr. Cub, and he always will be and always has been Mr. Chicago,” Emanuel said. “We owe [Liz Banks] a debt of gratitude for sharing him.”

Banks, who played his entire career with the Cubs from 1953-71, passed away Friday at the age of 83.

“He came here in 1953, and since that time, the city of Chicago has been totally enthralled and engrasped by his smile and that twinkle in his eyes and the way he took this city,” Emanuel said. “He took it by storm, and I think you can see by the outpouring of love and affection for him that he has become what started as Mr. Cub, let’s play two, to actually Mr. Chicago. He’s been our greatest ambassador.

“What I loved about him, even when he was done playing the sport he loved, he was never done engaging kids, not only in sports but in their minds and what they could do,” Emanuel said. “That’s why there’s been an outpouring of love and affection for him. He had that special twinkle that touched people in a way that not all athletes do. He knew the difference between being an athlete and also being what a role model truly is.”

The statue will remain in Daley Plaza through Saturday. Public visitation will be Friday and a memorial service on Saturday at Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 East Chestnut Street, Chicago. The public visitation will be from 12-8 p.m. CT Friday. On Saturday, there will be limited public seating available for the memorial service, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. CT. Several of Banks’ teammates were expected to attend.

— Carrie Muskat

1/28 Winter league update

* Santurce won the Puerto Rico championship series with a 5-3 win Tuesday night over Mayaguez. Javier Baez went 0-for-4 for Santurce, which won the best-of-seven series, 4-2, and now qualifies for the Caribbean series, scheduled to begin Feb. 2.

* Junior Lake had two hits, including a two-run homer in the eighth, in Estrellas’ 12-5 loss to Gigantes Tuesday in the Dominican League championship series. Gigantes won the best of nine series, 5-3, and advances to the Caribbean Series.