Banks named Cubs' Hometown Hero

Banks named Cubs' Hometown Hero

CHICAGO -- Ernie Banks not only is Mr. Cub but he's also the Chicago Cubs' hometown hero.

Over the past two months, fans had the opportunity to cast their ballots in the Major League Baseball Hometown Heroes promotion, presented by DHL. On Wednesday, the Cubs' final results were released, and Banks was declared the winner.

Banks broke into the Major Leagues in 1953 with the Cubs, and played for the team his entire 19-year career. The slender infielder started at shortstop and moved to first base in 1962. His No. 14 is one of four numbers that have been retired by the Cubs.

Banks did not hide his enthusiasm for the game, joyfully proclaiming, "It's a beautiful day for a ballgame -- let's play two!" The always-smiling Banks, now a youthful 75, twice won the National League Most Valuable Player award, in 1958 and '59.

He led the National League in home runs in 1958 and '60; led the league in RBIs in '58 and '59; and won a Gold Glove in '60.

On Sept. 2, 1965, Banks hit his 400th home run, and five years later, on May 12, 1970, at Wrigley Field, he hit his 500th. He finished the season with 512 homers, and held the record for most home runs by a shortstop until it was broken by Cal Ripken Jr.

Banks still holds several Cubs career records: for most grand slams (12), extra-base hits (1,009), total bases (4,706), and games (2,528).

An 11-time All-Star, Banks was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977, his first year of eligibility.

The fan-participation Hometown Heroes promotion, presented by DHL, was designed to celebrate a player, either past or present, from each of the 30 Major League teams whose combination of on-field contributions, character and leadership make him stand out from the rest. Every team had five candidates, and Banks edged out Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins, Ryne Sandberg and Ron Santo. All but Santo are in the Hall of Fame.

From July 18-Sept. 17, nearly 17 million votes were cast by fans using a special ballot containing five Hometown Heroes for each team.

The final list includes 20 Hall of Famers, eight Cy Young award winners, and a total of 330 All-Star Game and 340 World Series game appearances.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.