Baseball’s Chicago Cubs report that Hall of Fame shortstop Ernie Banks has died. “Mr. Cub,” who began his career in the Negro leagues, was the first black player for the team — eighth in the majors overall — and played in 14 All-Star games in his 19 seasons, all with the Cubs.
“Forty-four years after his retirement, Banks holds franchise records for hits, intentional walks and sacrifice flies and in RBIs since 1900,” MLB.com reports. “He likely holds club records for smiles and handshakes as well. … His 2,528 games are the most by anyone who never participated in postseason play. Chicago never held him responsible for that and believed he deserved better.”
His back-to-back MVP awards were among the few given to players on losing teams, notes The Associated Press:
“Banks’ best season came in 1958, when he hit .313 with 47 homers and 129 RBIs. Though the Cubs went 72-82 and finished sixth in the National League, Banks edged Willie Mays and Hank Aaron for his first MVP award. He was the first player from a losing team to win the NL MVP.
“Banks won the MVP again in 1959, becoming the first NL player to win it in consecutive years, even though the Cubs had another dismal year. Banks batted .304 with 45 homers and a league-leading 143 RBIs.”
According to ABC News, Oprah Winfrey, baseball great Ernie Banks and 1960s civil rights leader Bayard Rustin are among the 16 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom that President Obama will honor at the White House later this year.
“The Presidential Medal of Freedom goes to men and women who have dedicated their own lives to enriching ours,” the president said in a written statement. “This year’s honorees have been blessed with extraordinary talent, but what sets them apart is their gift for sharing that talent with the world.”
Fifty years ago, President John F. Kennedy established the Medal of Freedom as the nation’s highest civilian honor. Since then, more than 500 people have been recognized with the award for their contributions to all corners of society. This year’s recipients include musicians, athletes, journalists, lawmakers, advocates and scientists.
In addition to Winfrey, Banks and Rustin (who is receiving his award posthumously), Obama will honor former President Bill Clinton as well as the Washington Post’s former executive editor, Ben Bradlee, who oversaw the newspaper’s coverage of Watergate and the end of the Nixon presidency, former University of North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith, feminist pioneer and political activist Gloria Steinem, country music legend Loretta Lynn, and Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut to travel to space, among others.
Below is the full list of recipients from the White House: