Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - Chicago Cubs Hall of Fame first baseman and shortstop Ernie Banks passed away Friday at the age of 83.
WGN in Chicago reports Banks died at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Dubbed "Mr. Cub," Banks suited up on Chicago's North Side from 1953-71, slugging 512 home runs over 19 seasons. A 14-time All-Star, he was elected to Cooperstown in 1977.
"Words cannot express how important Ernie Banks will always be to the Chicago Cubs, the city of Chicago and Major League Baseball. He was one of the greatest players of all time," Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said. "He was a pioneer in the major leagues. And more importantly, he was the warmest and most sincere person I've ever known.
"Approachable, ever optimistic and kind hearted, Ernie Banks is and always will be Mr. Cub. My family and I grieve the loss of such a great and good- hearted man, but we look forward to celebrating Ernie's life in the days ahead."
Banks was also active in the Chicago community during and after his tenure with the Cubs. In 2013, he a was a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor given to citizens in the United States.
He was the National League Most Valuable Player in 1958 and 1959. Banks hit 47 home runs with 129 RBI in 1958 and followed up with 45 homers and 143 RBI in 1959.
During his career, Banks hit 512 home runs, 277 of which came at shortstop. That still stands as the most in the National League for a shortstop. He hit .274 and drove in 1,636 runs.
Banks also became the first African American to manage a major league team on May 8, 1973 when he took over for the ejected Whitey Lockman. He was also the first player in Cubs history to have his number retired in 1982 and was voted to Major League Baseball's All-Century Team in 1999. He was the first Cub to be honored with a statue at Wrigley Field on March 31, 2008.
Banks expressed his love of baseball in two catchphrases, "It's a great day for baseball" and also "Let's play two" for his expressive wish to play a doubleheader each day.
He is the Cubs' leader in games played (2,528), at-bats (9,421), plate appearances (10,395) and extra-base hits (1,009).