Last week upon hearing of the death of Ernie Banks, my first thought was of my father Thomas E. Ankum. My father was a devout Cubs fan. But more than that, he was an Ernie Banks fan.
Whenever the Cubs were playing, he was right there in front of the TV or radio, watching or listening to the game. I don’t think my father ever had a chance, i.e. enough money, to attend a Cubs game but that never stopped him from talking about Ernie Banks. Matter-a-fact I don’t remember my father ever talking about any other sports player the way he talked about Ernie Banks.
While listening to Reverend Jackson eulogize Mr. Banks, I realized why. Like so many, I ignorantly thought that Ernie Banks had come along way after the desegregation of baseball and had been fortunate enough to miss all of that. But I was wrong.
What a great man he was, to have come through such a scaving experience and still be able to smile with his fellow man.
Also, Reverend Jackson, brought me to tears with his story about what happened to Mr. Banks when he wanted to honor his long time friend, Ron Santos. It took a strong man to handle that. I was therefore extremely encouraged to see Mr. Santos sons there to honor Mr. Ernie Banks.
Mr. Banks’ life reminded me of that poem by Kipling, ‘If’.
“If you can keep your wits about you while all others are losing theirs, and blaming you. The world will be yours and everything in it, what’s more, you’ll be a man, my son.’
A Tiny Kitten With A Big Mouth
Eliza D. Ankum