Thursday, February 16, 2012

#510 Ernie Banks

#510 Ernie Banks
Back again so soon. Ed's dragging me to the finish line on this project, in this case spotting a pretty well-conditioned copy of this high-numbered Ernie Banks card at a hobby show for $20. It's the most I've paid yet, but I'd say it's worth the cost. Now the needs list is down to the Magnificent Seven!

Fun facts about Ernie Banks:

-Ernie was born in Dallas, TX and was signed by the Negro Leagues' Kansas City Monarchs in 1950. He had two stints with the club sandwiched around a tour in the Army, and signed with the Cubs in September 1953.

-The young shortstop jumped right to the major leagues, starting for Chicago in a September 17, 1953 loss to the Phillies. As the first black player in team history, he went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored, and batted .314 with a pair of homers in 10 games.

-Banks was runner-up to Wally Moon in 1954's N.L. Rookie of the Year voting. He played all 154 games for the Cubs, batting .275 with 19 home runs and 79 RBI. Only Hank Sauer (103 RBI) drove in more runs for the club.

-He broke out in 1955 with the first of 11 All-Star seasons, a third-place MVP finish, and a batting line of .295/.345/.596 with 44 homers and 117 RBI.

-Ernie had his greatest seasons back-to-back, winning the National League MVP honors in 1958 and 1959. In the former year, he batted a career-high .313 and led the Senior Circuit with 47 home runs (a record for shortstops at the time), 129 RBI, and a .614 slugging percentage. 1959 brought a .304/.374/.596 slash line, 45 homers, and a league-best 143 RBI.

-He won his one and only Gold Glove in 1960. The following season, the Cubs began transitioning him to first base, the position he played almost exclusively for the next decade.

-Banks played his entire 19-year career at Wrigley Field, where he was known as "Mr. Cub" and beloved for his production, leadership, and enthusiasm. Unfortunately, this also meant that he never got the opportunity to play in the postseason.

-He hit three home runs in one game four times in his career: August 4, 1955 (part of a 7-RBI outburst); September 14, 1957 (nightcap of a doubleheader - let's play two!); May 29, 1962 (4-for-5 with a double); and June 9, 1963 (two off of Sandy Koufax!).

-He retired in 1971 with a .274 average and an even .500 slugging percentage, as well as 512 home runs and 1,636 RBI. His total of 277 home runs as a shortstop was a record that stood for over two decades before being surpassed by Cal Ripken, Jr.

-Ernie was a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 1977, collecting 321 votes out of a possible 383 (83.8%). The 62 voters who didn't choose him should be given severe noogies. He's maintained a close relationship with the Cubs throughout the years, even spending a few years coaching at the end of his playing career. His #14 was retired in 1982, making him the first Cubbie to receive that honor, and in 2008 a statue in his likeness was dedicated outside of Wrigley Field.
#510 Ernie Banks (back)


  1. Great card. I always wondered why it was cropped so close.

  2. I agree, Great Card, Great Player, And A Great Man. Lets Play Two, Mr. Cub!

  3. Banks was a great player and certainly deserving of the Hall, but better players have not been first-ballot admittees (or, in the case of Albert Belle, never voted in). I would imagine that Banks' overall popularity with fans and the media helped get him in when others have had to wait.

  4. Did you seriously just call Albert Belle: a) better than Ernie Banks, and b) Hall of Fame worthy?

  5. does anyone know of another topps card captured in "profile"? This card of the great Banks was very unsatisfying for a kid of ten years in his second year of collecting; like the hat-less head shots that proliferated in this expansion era, only worse!

    1. I actually like the profile shot on this card. - yes, it's different - but a nice change from the typical posed batting shot or front-on blank stare portrait that is generally pretty boring. I can see why some people don't like it, but at least with this one you can still tell that Ernie - as he normally did - was smiling. As for other cards in profile, yes - another Cub in fact was Ron Santo's 1969 Topps All Star card #420. He's pictured in the same left facing profile shot as Ernie - and is also smiling. The two cards would probably look pretty good next to one another.