Beloved Chicago Cub Ernie Banks made fans smile during and long after his Hall of Fame career, but since his death last month at 83, there's been nothing but fighting going on between his estranged wife, twin sons and caregiver over everything from his body to his estate.
The first battle came when estranged wife Elizabeth Banks went to court to prevent Regina Rice, who cared for Banks in his later years, from having Banks' remains cremated. Even though the baseball legend once told a reporter that he wanted his ashes scattered at Wrigley, Elizabeth Banks said he was joking. Whether her effort to keep his remains intact while a court sorts that case out isn't clear, because no one seems to know where the body is. Officials at Graceland Cemetery, just blocks from Wrigley Field, say he wasn't buried there. The funeral home that handled the Banks memorial says it doesn't have his body.
And now, twins Jerry and Joey Banks are getting their turn at bat, challenging Rice over a power of attorney, a health care directive and a will giving everything to her.
"I find it quite interesting that she did not tell anyone that she had an attorney write up a new will," Jerry Banks said.
Joey Banks said the family thought Rice was helping and watching over "Mr. Cub" while he was in Chicago, the city where he became a legend. Banks is remembered as much for his boundless enthusiasm despite playing on mostly losing teams as his 512 home runs and two MVP awards.
Family attorney Mark Bogen said that only after the funeral did the Banks family become aware he had signed a new will during his illness.
A provision of the will, signed and dated Oct. 17, says: "I am making no provisions under this will for wife or my children, not for a lack of love and affection for them and for reasons best known to them."
Bogen said the family will vigorously fight the will.
"Everybody's in mourning. If you're supposed to be the caregiver, long-time associate…why are you up in the spa?"
- Jerry Banks
"It is understandable that Ernie's family is concerned at this very sad time," Rice said in her statement. "However, the record, and those closest to Ernie, will dispel any iota of concern regarding my relationship with Ernie and his trust in me to carry out his wishes."
Before Banks' death, family members frequently spoke to Rice because she made it difficult for them to speak directly to him, Jerry Banks said.
"At the funeral of my father, I went out of my way to praise Ms. Rice and her son for helping my father," Joey Banks said.
"What I did not know at that time is that for at least six months prior to my father's death, in my opinion, she was using him, manipulating him and controlled him."
One social media post by Rice drew criticism from Jerry Banks. The post, which was published eight days after his father died, showed a waiter presenting a bottle of Champagne with the caption: "Spa time. Yay."
Jerry Banks said, "Everybody's in mourning. If you're supposed to be the caregiver, long-time associate…why are you up in the spa?" Rice went on to say she will not participate in any verbal jousting with Banks' family or do anything to tarnish his legacy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.