Ernie Banks Joins The 500 Home Run Club – 5/12/1970

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Founded in 1876, The Chicago White Stockings (later known as the Cubs) was a charter member of the National League. The team recorded an excellent performance after one of its players Arthur Goodwill Spalding helped the team gain victory in their first game on April 25, 1876. After four months, Goodwill led the team to the first-ever National League pennant title. Goodwill Spalding was the later founder of Spalding Sporting Goods. 

Due to the teams growing talent, it was referred to as the “Cubs” in 1902. However, the team decided to adopt the name officially, five years later. Earlier, the team had been nicknamed “Orphans” and “Colts.” Cub’s 116 wins set a significant record in 1906. Even though the team had lost the 1906 World Series to their rivals the White Sox, they won the next two, defeating the great Detroit Tigers in 1908.

By the time Ernie Banks was joining The Cubs, the team had already lost its glory. Banks joined in 1953 when Cubs had been losing every year from 1946. Between 1946 and 1952, the team had placed last three times. Banks had brought ‘new energy,’ and even though he tried to save his team, the Cubs lost in 1954, by a 64-90 score.

In 1955, Banks upped his efforts and played remarkably; manning shortstop and hitting 44 homers, but the Cubs did not take the season. That year Banks had recorded five grand slams, which were a single-season record that remained unshaken for 20 years. During Banks time, the Cubs only managed to win five times during Banks’ 19 seasons. One of the wins was in 1969 when the Cubs clinched the first place by nine-and-a-half games over the New York Mets. A month later, the Mets strategized and defeated the Cubs. The Cubs lost 10 out of their final 11 games and even missed the playoffs, yet again.

On May 12, 1970, Ernie Banks joined the 500 Home Run Club in front of an audience of 5, 264 fans, at the Wrigley Field. The Cubs slugger went deep during the second inning and simultaneously reached 1600 runs battle in. The record came from a solo shot off Pat Jarvis of Atlanta Braves. At the time, Banks became the ninth player to attain the 500 mark.

In two consecutive years, 1958 and 1959, Banks was named Cub’s most valuable player. He led the National League in RBIs twice and home runs twice. He ended his career with 512 home runs. In 1977, Banks was welcomed to the Hall of Fame. Even though Banks recorded an impressive career, he never played in post-season. 

1908 was the last time the Cubs won the World Series, and 1945 was the last time the team won the National League Pennant. It is reported that they were successful in 1945 because most of the league stars were absent; they were taking part in World War II.

“Mr. Cub,” as he was called around Chicago ended his career with 2, 583 hits, 1, 636 RBI’s, 512 home runs, and a 274 batting average. The Baseball Writers’ Association voted Banks in 1977, with a majority of the writers approving of his remarkable career. Banks died at the age of 83, but he left a legacy of having an engaging personality and being a lover of the game.

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