Ernie Banks -- Mr. Cub

They called Stan Musial “THE MAN ” in St. Louis, but in Chicago the man was Ernie Banks. He was called “Mr. Cub” because of his impact on the city as the short stop for the Chicago Cubs. I became acquainted with him early in my career. My first game for the Cardinals as a starting pitcher was against the Chicago Cubs in September, 1955. I held the Cubs scoreless through the first 4 innings, but in the top of the 5th they had loaded the bases with Ernie Banks stepping up to the plate. No one had bothered to tell me not to throw him a fast ball over the plate for a strike. So in my naiveté I threw him a fastball on the inside part of the plate which he immediately drilled for a home run into the left field bleachers. It was his 5th grand-slam of the year, which is still a record to this very day. So I got into the record books very early!

In 1956, I recall when the manager of the Cardinals, Fred Hutchinson, held a clubhouse meeting with the Cubs in town. Ernie Banks was red hot. Hutch, in his rough grizzly voice, said to the pitchers, “Whatever you do, don’t give Banks a chance to beat you, even if you have to walk him!” The final score of the game was 6 to 2 in favor of the Cubs. Banks had driven in all six runs! Every time he came to bat, there was a runner at first base, so the pitchers were forced to pitch to him. This is just one of a ton of stories about the great Ernie Banks. In Chicago, He was known as Mr. Optimism. He would often speak of the “friendly confines of Wrigley Field” or say with enthusiasm, “this is a great day for a double-header!” He was a much sought after speaker in Chi town and became involved in many community causes. He was a public relations dream.

Outside of that rookie mistake, I got Banks out fairly well. I especially remember one game in which I threw him 15 straight fastballs and got him to pop up three times. But the fastballs were thrown almost a foot inside off the plate. In 1960, my greatest year, my mom and dad were only able to see me pitch to one batter. That batter was Ernie Banks. I strike him out with the bases loaded on three pitches – a fastball, a curve ball, and a fork ball – all swinging misses. Those are things that you never forget. But I have a purpose in writing this article other than baseball. I am writing this not only about baseball, but especially about race relations.

In 1963, the year I joined the Chicago Cubs, Ernie and I were talking in the outfield during batting practice. He said to me, “Lindy, why don’t we room together?” He was referring to the road trips, as each person was responsible for his own housing arrangements in Chicago. I replied, “That would be fine with me.” Ernie said that he would arrange it with the front office. Well, the front office did not approve, and so we were never roommates. I was never told the reason, but I suppose at that time they did not allow blacks and whites to room together. I will always remember the good feelings and respect that Ernie and I had for each other, even as I had for other blacks like Billy Williams, Bill White, Curt Flood and Lou Brock.

My background in the Bible teaches me that God makes no distinction between black and white races. On the occasion of the first Gentiles converts, Peter said: "I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.” (Acts 10:34-35). In Christ’s church, all stand equal before God without economic, gender or race distinctions. The apostle Paul put it this way: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26-28). The little book of Philemon, penned by Paul, contains a great thesis on race. It is in the Bible that that we read “He (God—LM) made from one man (some translations render the word blood—LM) every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;” (Acts 17:26-27)

Some people actually use the Bible to try to justify racism, even though the above passages, as well as many others, teach otherwise. Some teach that because Ham, the son of Noah, was cursed (see Gen. 9:25), and since the descendants of Ham migrated to Africa, etc., therefore some have concluded that the black race is cursed to be slaves, etc. The curse actually fell upon Ham’s son Canaan (Gen. 9:26), and his descendants were the ones who migrated to the land that carried their name – Canaan. The generic term for the people of that land was Canaanites (See Gen. 24:3; 50:11). When the iniquity of the people in that land was full (see Gen. 15:16-21), God allowed the Israelites, descendants of Shem (see Gen. 9:26) to conquer the land thus fulfilling the curse. But there is not space here to get into all of the aspects of this matter. But to say that God has placed a curse upon an entire race of people today is totally without foundation. I may devote an entire article to racism in the future.

For many years professional baseball did not allow blacks to compete with white players. We all know that it was Jackie Robinson who broke the color barrier. For many years it was hard for blacks in baseball to find decent housing in spring training and in major league cities. Most every large city had its black ghettos. Many of us at the time were unaware of many of the problems faced by black players and black people in general. The real answer lies in changing attitudes, equal treatment under law and equal opportunity. Communism or socialism, which has sought to capitalize on this issue, is not the answer. There certainly need to be equal protection under law for all men, but the real answer likes in changing the hearts of men and women. We must realize that all men are created in the image of God, and for that reason we must respect and highly regard the life and well-being of any person. Perhaps I will address this more in future articles.

God has blinders when it comes to race. The same moral and spiritual standards are expected from everyone regardless of race or background. Read Ezekiel Chapter Eighteen. After all, “God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.”

---Lindy McDaniel

At beginning of article is a photo of Billy Williams, Ernie Banks and myself. You can contact me by E-mail:

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