Monday, March 31, 2008

"Nobody deserves this more"

So said Cubs All-Star third baseman and radio announcer Ron Santo at the unveiling of Ernie Banks' statue today, Opening Day, right in front of Wrigley Field.

Ernie was the first Cub player I ever "knew," my first baseball hero when I was just a tiny gal. His stats were impressive -- including 2 consecutive MVP awards and 512 homeruns. But most of all, it was Ernie's enthusiasm and charm and sportsmanship that enchanted me.

"Let's play two!" he would announce on even the cloudiest days, or even during the longest losing streak. He's the one who christened Chicago's enduring tabernacle of baseball "the friendly confines of Wrigley Field."

I love Ernie Banks, my mom loves Ernie Banks, and I'm teaching my nephew to love him, too, just as my dad and my grandparents are loving him from heaven. The whole city loves him, that's why the Mayor declared today "Ernie Banks Day." He typifies what being a Cub fan is about. And Ronnie's right, no one deserves an honor at that ballpark more.

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