Ernie Banks was in typical positive form as he celebrated his 80th birthday along with about 300 of his closest friends over the weekend.
“Friends of our friends are also our friends,” said Banks, who also received congratulations from Chicago Cubs ownership, represented by Laura and Todd Ricketts, as well as fellow Cubs Hall of Famer Billy Williams. “I will always remember this. I didn’t play in the World Series, but this is like a World Series to me.”
Mr. Cub celebrated the occasion at Harry Caray’s Restaurant in downtown Chicago as Illinois Governor Pat Quinn proclaimed “Ernie Banks Day,” mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel joined in the festivities and actor/comedian Jeff Garlin led the guests in singing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.”
Elizabeth Stein of Elizabeth Stein & Company presented Banks with an antique violin, valued at $8,000. World famous violinist, David Yonan played original birthday variations for Banks.
It was a fitting celebration for the Hall of Fame shortstop/first baseman and 500 Home Run Club member, who hit 512 home runs and earned back-to-back National League Most Valuable Player awards in 1958 and '59.