Former Chicago Cubs SS/1B Ernie Banks has been named by President Barack Obama to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor given in the United States of America. Affectionately known as “Mr. Cub” in the Windy City, Banks was known for his unusual power for a middle infielder, as well as his positive attitude (famously quoted as saying “It’s a great day for a ball game; let’s play two!“)
The 82-year-old is just as spry and energetic as ever, having led Wrigley Field in “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on Opening Day (video). He was a 2-time MVP of the National League, a 14-time All-Star, and inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977 with 83% of the ballot on his first year of eligibility. He was also one of the first African-American superstars who had the opportunity to play his whole career in Major League Baseball, debuting at the age of 22, only 6 short years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. Unfortunately, because of his affiliation with the Cubs his whole career, he never made a postseason appearance.
According to the Whitehouse.gov website, here is the commendation for Banks:
Known to many as “Mr. Cub,” Ernie Banks is one of the greatest baseball players of all time. During his 19 seasons with the Chicago Cubs, he played in 11 All-Star Games, hit over 500 home runs, and became the first National League player to win Most Valuable Player honors in back-to-back years. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977, his first year of eligibility.
It’s unclear where the 11 All-Star games referenced above originates, Baseball-Almanac lists 12 here plus there were two he didn’t appear in the game. Note that some years there were two All-Star games, perhaps leading to some confusion.