Baltimore Orioles: In memory of Ernie Banks


The phrase let’s play two! has taken on special meaning this weekend, as the Baltimore Orioles join the rest of the baseball world in mourning the loss of Chicago Cubs’ hall of famer Ernie Banks. Banks passed away on Friday at the age of 83. He’s long been remembered for his love of the game, and the dedication with which he played it despite being on incredibly poor Chicago teams for most of his career. His sunny outlook and delightful personality added to his charm, and added to the laundry list of reasons that baseball fans nationwide loved him so much.

Yesterday President Obama released a statement of condolence to the Cubs’ family in the wake of Mr. Banks’ passing:

"…somewhere the sun is shining, the air is fresh, his team’s behind him, and “Mr. Class” – “Mr. Cub” – is ready to play two."

Any athlete who in death garners the eye of the President of the United States must have been pretty special.

Earlier in his statement on Ernie Banks, the President also pointed out that his wife Michelle used to sit with her Dad and watch Banks and the Cubs on television as a little girl. And regardless of what you think of our President as a leader, he’s captured something very important in pointing that out. Sports fans exist partially due to growing up and watching the great athletes of their youth with their parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles, etc – whomever it might have been. So as adults when we watch the games, we’re transported back to those times, whenever they might have been.

Orioles fans can probably draw a parallel with Ernie Banks and perhaps Brooks Robinson. Of course at 34, my generation followed Cal Ripken Jr, much more closely, however speaking for myself if I had to pick one player in the franchise’s history who meant more than anyone else it would be Brooks. That aside, both Robinson and Banks are well respected in both the communities in which they played, and nationwide.

Hall of Famers however are not a part of any one specific team, although that’s how many of them are identified. I’ve always said that players in the hall of fame belong to “the game” as a whole. And nobody typifies that more than the great Ernie Banks, who’s as well respected nationwide as any player in any sport. His loss is one that’s felt across baseball, and that has obviously been felt in as high up as the White House. May Ernie Banks rest in peace, and may his smile always prevail while playing two on the fields of eternity.