‘Mr. Cub’ Ernie Banks dies in Chicago at 83

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Ernie Banks during presentation of Presidential Medal of Freedom at White House in 2013

Ernie Banks during presentation of Presidential Medal of Freedom at White House in 2013. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

CHICAGO — Chicago Cubs legend Ernie Banks died Friday in Chicago, family attorney Mark Bogan said. Banks was 83.

The circumstances surrounding his death were not immediately available.

“He did not die of natural causes,” Bogan said. “His death was not expected.”

The family has scheduled a news conference for Sunday.

“Words cannot express how important Ernie Banks will always be to the Chicago Cubs, the city of Chicago and Major League Baseball,” Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts said in a statement. “He was one of the greatest players of all time.”

Banks played for the Cubs from 1953-1971. The Dallas native began his professional career in the Negro Leagues with the Kansas City Monarchs in 1950. After two years in the Army, he returned to the Monarchs, who sold his contract to the Cubs.

“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 kindhearted, 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 inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977.