Ernie Banks played for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues when the Chicago Cubs discovered him in 1953. He made his major league debut at shortstop on Sept. 17 that year, and three days later he hit his first home run.
Affectionately known as “Mr. Cub,” Banks died Friday at the age of 83.
Banks hit 512 home runs during his 19-year career and was fond of saying, “It’s a great day for baseball. Let’s play two!” despite never playing on a playoff team. Banks was inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1977.
He was the first player from a losing team to win the NL MVP. Banks won the MVP again in 1959, becoming the first NL player to win it in consecutive years.
Banks’ No. 14 was the first number retired by the Cubs, and it hangs from the left-field foul pole at Wrigley Field.
Banks hit .347 in 1953 with the Monarchs and considered his time in Kansas City as the base for his Hall of Fame future. “Playing for the Kansas City Monarchs was like my school, my learning, my world. It was my whole life.”