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Mr. Cub Made An Impact

January 24, 2015

I am saddened by the passing of Chicago Cubs legend Ernie Banks yesterday.

The Chicago media and fans will be reflecting on their memories of him.

I have my own vivid personal memory of Ernie Banks, but it will be unlike almost everyone else’s.

I didn’t get to see Ernie Banks play for very long.  I was 5 years old when he retired from baseball.

But I knew the name Ernie Banks since I was about 3 years old.  I loved watching Chicago Cubs baseball with my dad during the day on WGN-TV channel 9 in Chicago.  It was one of the few TV stations we got on our TV at the time.  There were channels 2, 5, 7, 9, 11, 32 and 44.  That was it.  Seven stations.  If there were more, then they didn’t come in very clearly on our TV at the time.  I say that to contrast today when we have many dozens or hundreds of stations to choose from. Kids today can’t relate.  That’s why I wrote previously about The Good Old Days – today has just as much claim on being “the good old days” as back then – just a matter of perspective – so enjoy today…but I digress….

I used to watch Chicago Cubs baseball with my dad as far back as I can remember.  The names of the Chicago Cubs players from the day were household names at our house – Kessinger, Beckert, Williams, Santo, Jenkins, and especially the great Ernie Banks.

On May 12, 1970 I was 4 years old, but I have a vivid memory from that day.  That was the day Ernie Banks hit his 500th home run.  It would have an impact at our house.

I was in the back room of our house at 87th and Damen.  I was on the floor playing and watching TV as the Cubs game was on and my dad, who was on the couch next to me, was excited and paying an extra amount of attention to the game.  The moment would have passed by and gone to oblivion like millions of others, if not for that moment Ernie Banks took a swing at a pitch, connecting with the ball, sending it over the left field fence at Wrigley Field for his 500th home run.

Below is the video of that hit. The excitement generated by broadcaster Jack Brickhouse and the roar of the Cubs crowd is electrifying and sends chills down my spine.

What I remember next associated with the sounds on the video is a subsequent loud and startling crash right next to me.

My dad, in a moment of elation, had taken a pillow that was on the couch, embraced it in nervous tightness as Ernie Banks came to bat for what he knew could possibly a historic moment, and when Ernie took a mighty swing that connected with the ball sending it over the left field wall, he took that pillow and threw it to the ceiling giving a loud cheer.  In the middle of the room’s ceiling was a glass fixture for a ceiling light. The pillow was throw with such force that it either broke or dislodged the glass fixture, causing it to fall to the floor in the middle of the room right next to me, shattering loudly it as it hit the floor.

I was promptly instructed not to move.

My mom came into the room with a broom and dustpan and quickly swept up the glass from the floor.

Things settled down, returned to normal, and memories to oblivion.

But that Ernie Banks 500th home run is one of my earliest memories – one that I will never forget.

And because of it, I have a treasured memory of an early childhood moment with my dad, and mom standing near, celebrating baseball moments, revering baseball history, and feeling loved and protected by them both.

Priceless.

 

 

Rest in peace, Ernie.  Thank you for the warm smiles, the baseball thrills and especially the treasured memories.

 

Let’s Play Two! – Did you like this story?  Why not read another?

Below are links to other wonderful blog stories by Ed Novick related to the subject of baseball:

Baseball

Wrigley Field Tour Is Heaven

A Perfect Baseball Birthday

The Legendary Ed Novick

Baseball Is Fun And A Lot Of Work

Baseball Dream Team

Near No Hitter

The Marauders

Stalking Dave Winfield

On Fields With You

Winter Baseball

 

Feel free to share your favorite Ernie Banks memory in the Comments section below.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Amy permalink
    January 24, 2015 7:22 pm

    What a priceless memory! I too remember watching the Cubs games with my dad in the 70s. I was so young that I thought the hamms beer commercial was a kids cartoon! I was lucky enough to have met Mr.Banks about 3-4 years ago. He siged out ‘W’ flag and posed with us for a photo. He will be missed. It feels like another link to my youth gone. The 70s seem so very far away now. But my daughter loves watching the Cubs games with me all summer long and night games during the school year. Rip Mr Cub.

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