Anyone who has ever been a Cubs fan knows who Ernie Banks is. The man known as “Mr. Cub” played for the Chicago Cubs from 1953-1971, earned two MVP awards, a Gold Glove, and was inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame in 1977. His death yesterday has saddened many across the country who grew up watching the legendary baseball player. Ernie Banks may never have been a Deerhorn camper, but his spirit embodied what Dr. Don set out to teach campers in the Deerhorn Creed.
1. He “spread sunshine and good cheer, just for the fun of it.” Although he was an amazing baseball player, he is more often remembered for who he was, rather than what he achieved. His other nickname was “Mr. Sunshine,” because of his sunny disposition, ever-optimistic outlook, and consistent smile on his face. He played with joy, and his love of the game was always evident.
2. He was “an optimist rather than a pessismist.” He stayed with the Cubs for his entire MLB career, despite their losing record. He had eternal faith that someday the Cub would go all the way, despite the fact that they hadn’t won a World Series since 1908.
3. He showed what it meant to “win modestly, lose gracefully, and always have a kind word for the opposing side.” Ernie played honestly, and he was loyal to the team he loved the most. That loyalty was more important to him than moving to a team with a better record. And Ernie made decisions with his heart, rather than in a quest for fame or money. In today’s era of professional athletes, who aren’t always great role models, for whom millions of dollars seem not to be adequate, Ernie stands out as someone kids could look up to.
4. He was kind. Ernie was known for his warmth and his loyalty. According to Tom Ricketts, chairman of the Cubs, he was “the warmest and most sincere person I’ve ever known.” Ernie came into the Major League in 1953, during the time of Jim Crow laws. “He often was not allowed to stay at some of the same hotels or eat in the same restaurants as his teammates.” (ABC Chicago) But despite how he was treated by much of society in the beginning of his career, Ernie never let that change his attitude, and he reminded kind and big-hearted through his entire life.
Ernie Banks is the perfect example of what it means to live the Creed. In a Chicago Tribune article from 2013, he was quoted as saying “My whole life, I’ve just wanted to make people better.” That’s exactly what we strive to do at Deerhorn. We want our campers to go home better people. And our greatest hope is that those campers will go out into the world, and “make people better.”