Mr. Cub® Goes To Washington Print E-mail
Written by Jim Rednour   
Monday, 30 November 2009

When the curators at the Library of Congress Folklife Center began planning their Baseball Americana symposium (a two-day event in celebration of baseball October 2-3, 2009), they sought a living ambassador of the sport suitable of representing the colorful history and exuberant spirit of “America’s Game”…and they naturally thought of “Mr. Cub®” Ernie Banks. Ernie’s response was an immediate “Yes! I said, ‘Anything I can do for the game of baseball and our great fans around the world, count me in.’”

So after consulting with baseball’s greatest stars, including names like Banks, Aaron, Mays and Jackson, along with and past managers, owners, sports reporters, authors and fans, the folks at the LOC Folklife Center created an ambitious and awe-inspiring symposium that examined baseball from a number of interesting perspectives, particularly the viewpoints of people who experience the game at home (via TV, radio and newspapers), in the stands (as spectators, vendors and musicians), and on the field (as players and coaches). 

Speakers included former players who made their living through the game (such as a stadium organist and a head groundskeeper), as well as experts on baseball cuisine, the language of baseball, and baseball equipment and memorabilia. In addition, Library of Congress curators displayed and discussed rare baseball-related items from the Library’s collections, including historically significant baseball cards, photographs, and sheet music.
 
The event began on Friday night with curator talks followed by an evening of film and radio clips from the Library’s vast archives. The following day featured the keynote address followed by presentations by a number of speakers, a seventh-inning stretch, an on-stage conversation with Mr. Cub, and the signing of the Library’s new book Baseball Americana: Treasures from the Library of Congress. For full agenda, visit http://www.loc.gov/folklife/Symposia/Baseball/program.html
 
According to LOC Folklife Center Director Peggy Bulger, “In our strong opinion, no one associated with baseball is more respected, and no one better embodies the spirit of the game than Ernie Banks.”  Mr. Cub was recognized by the Library of Congress “Living Legend Award” for his contributions with the Negro American League (Kansas City Monarchs), Major League Baseball (Chicago Cubs), and continuing impact as baseball’s global ambassador, as well as on society via his own Live Above and Beyond Foundation which works to fight racial discrimination.  

All the symposium’s sessions were videotaped and the recordings will be added to the permanent collection of the Library of Congress, where they will be preserved and made available to researchers and the public.  “Following the suggestion of past-MLB Commissioner Fay Vincent, who is advising us on the symposium, we intend to present a copy of the recording of the on-stage conversation with Mr. Banks to the Baseball Hall of Fame,” added Bulger.

As usual, Ernie wowed the crowd with his inspiring words and stole the show with an impromptu version of "Thanks for the Memories".
  
Photos on this page are courtesy of Stephen Winick, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress."

While in Washington, DC as the special guests of the Library of Congress, Liz and Ernie Banks toured the White House where they said hello to President Obama and Liz got a quick picture with the "First Dog" whose name is Bo.

A Portuguese Water Dog, Bo was named by the President's daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, because Mrs. Obama's father was nicknamed Diddley, as in Bo Diddley. The dog was a gift from the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, and is known for high spirits and said to be a good fit for kids with allergies (such as Malia).

Bo sure liked Liz (President of 500 Home Run Club®, LLC)





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