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Honoring an Icon by Bruce Leighty
Bruce Leighty

Honoring an Icon by Bruce Leighty in Newsworthy

Late on Friday, Jan. 23, it was announced that "Mr. Cub" had died at the age of 83 just days before his 84th birthday.

Banks was an icon for the Cubs and the City of Chicago. He was the first African-American player signed and to play for the Chicago Cubs, making his debut with the team in 1953. He was renowned for his optimism, infectious personality and being a tremendous ambassador the game he loved.

His Hall of Fame career was filled with truly outstanding on-the-field accomplishments, however, he was more than a baseball player, he was an outstanding person for all to see.

For me, he was my childhood hero. An example of not only a great baseball player, but a shining example of how to conduct oneself on and off the field. Growing up, I played shortstop as did he. As I progressed in my own baseball endeavors I was fortunate to wear his number on virtually every uniform I wore in tribute to him.

I had the very good fortune to meet Ernie on several occasions. It was my experience that he did something that was very rare when I met him each and very time. He not only lived up to my expectations and visions of him, but actually surpassed them. He was a warn, caring and special man that shared a true passion with me, a love for the great game of baseball.

So I dedicate this image upload to a man I watched as a boy, respected as a teen and totally admired through my entire life.

May God hit you in the cleanup spot in the batting order Ernie and allow you to play two each and every day. Thank you for enriching my life and providing me with bigger-than-life memories I will never forget.

God bless you and rest in total peace!

(The image is the Ernie Banks statue at Wrigley Field on Clark Street just north of the famous entry marquee at Clark and Addison streets. It is so fitting the likeness is forever smiling.)

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