“I just wish (the statue) had been done 15 years ago,” Hank Aaron said today of the unveiling of Ernie Banks’ statue at Clark and Addison. “Be that as it may, I for one am going to be very proud of the fact that I had the opportunity not only to play baseball with you but to share in your dream.”
My sentiments exactly, although I only got to watch Banks play in person once in 1971. The Tribune Co. today effectively silenced me on one of my most-hated Trib embrace-the-loserdom embarrassments, which has been the lack of any proper tribute to players like Ernie Banks while Trib employees like Harry Caray were given statues. Ernie Banks received one today, which MLB.com’s Jim Molony reports is modeled on an August 29th, 1959 at-bat against Warren Spahn. Banks noted he played for “one team, one owner, and one mayor” during his entire career, none of which did him any justice. Banks hit 512 HRs on 1953-71 Cub teams. Can you imagine what he would have done on winning teams? Banks said he learned everything he knew about life from Phillip K. Wrigley. Fortunately he stopped listening when it came to baseball. So, while my list of complaints with the Cubs is down one today, I’m glad this one is gone. And unlike that beer-goggled view of Caray, Banks’ sculptor spent some time making him look good.
The Cubs then lost the opener to Aaron’s old town, Milwaukee, despite a Fukudome 3-run homer in the 9th. And if anything made me miss Harry today, it’s not hearing him struggle with pronouncing that name all year.