The Wisdom of Ernie Banks, Mr. Cub.


This has been a month of reflection.  Now I tend to reflect a bit each day, so a month of reflection is not all too unique.  But the focus of my January reflections tend to be less historical and cultural and more personal: in the start of the year, I check myself.  Its mid-winter.  It's dark.  There is a natural pull towards hibernation. 

The snowstorm that rolled through this past week felt like a beloved uncle visiting town.  We shared many late night walks.  Is not a fresh snow the perfect combination of inspiration and quiet?

I think a lot about life and death during the winter.  Or so it seems.  For this is my second consecutive post about someone who has recently passed on.  But for me,  this is not so much about death but celebrating life.  Paying homage and respect.  Holding good role models, inspiring mentors, in my mind help guide my days and weeks.  

Today I pay homage to Ernie Banks, Mr. Cub, who died last week at the age of 83.  This guy was and will remain a legend:  he hit 512 home runs, he was a two-time MVP,  he was a first-ballot hall-of-famer.  And he was the first black player on the Chicago Cubs.  For those who love baseball, he is one of the all time greats.    

But what he is remembered for - as much as any of his on-field accomplishments is the encouragement he carried with him every day and with all he crossed paths with.  

Ernie Banks was a talent.  But on top of that, Ernie Banks discovered and embodied a joyful and humble spirit.  He left us with some great quotes, words that embody some of his spirit, his insight, his wisdom. Give thanks, Mr. Cub.  

You must try to generate happiness within yourself.
If you aren't happy in one place, chances are you won't be happy anyplace.
                                                       -Ernie Banks

Awards mean a lot, but they don't say it all.
The people in baseball mean more to me than statistics.
                                                       -Ernie Banks

But it all comes down to friendship, treating people right. 
                                                                   -Ernie Banks      

The only way to prove that you're a good sport is to lose. 
                                                                  -Ernie Banks      

The riches of the game are in the thrills, not the money. 
                                                                  -Ernie Banks


This final quote - the one Banks is most famous for - perhaps sums it all up:  It was 105 degrees in the midst of a Chicago summer and everyone was down-trodden in the clubhouse, uninspired to play ball in such heat.  But then Ernie Banks arrives into the clubhouse and exclaims, "It's a great day for a ball game; let's play two!"