What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
This past weekend, baseball lost a true legend with the passing of Ernie “Mr. Cub” Banks. I really can’t say more than has already been said in terms of eulogizing this larger-than-life baseball icon, but I can say how Mr. Cub taught me a lesson I would use throughout my life.
I’m of such an age that I only caught the tail-end of Banks’ career. The year he retired, there were several other notables players who hung up the cleats as well, such as Clete Boyer, Jim Bunning, Zoilo Versailles, Mudcat Grant, and Camilo Pascual. By then, none of those guys were the best players of their day anymore, and neither was “Mr. Cub.” I came to my love of sports at an exceptionally early age; I literally went from Sesame Street to the sports page.
The problem was in those days I had no sense of history. Think about that for a minute. If you were a kid discovering baseball in 1971, you thought the greatest players in the history of the game were those you saw today because you didn’t know yesterday. Imagine a world in which guys like Sal Bando and Joe Torre overshadowed guys like Ernie Banks.
That world actually existed in my head until I discovered the history books. Part of the reason why that happened was I couldn’t understand why all the fuss was being made over Banks. I mean by 1971, Banks wasn’t even the best player on the Chicago Cubs as they had stars like Billy Williams, Ron Santo, and Ferguson Jenkins. That’s where the lack of understanding of history comes into play.
After a trip through the Baseball Almanac, I realized that Ernie Banks wasn’t a big deal because of what he did in 1971; it was because he had a lot more seasons like 1959 when he launched 45 homers and drove in 122 runs. I wasn’t around in 1959, but once I knew about history, my perspective of sports would never be the same.
You could ask Mrs. Dubsism about this, and she would be the first to tell you about how I can quote sports facts from decades before I was born. That’s all because once I started diving into the sports history books, I never stopped. Part of the reason I became a sports bookworm was because of guys like Ernie Banks.
That’s why somewhere in my house, there’s a box with all my old baseball cards in it, and one of the most prized is the one you see above. Do yourself a favor today. If you read this and you don’t know why Ernie Banks is a massive figure in the world of sports, pick up some books written by those who were around to see why. It might just change your perspective as well.