Just last weekend, it was announced at the Cubs Convention that Ernie Banks couldn't make it; the reason wasn't stated but many assumed he had to be seriously ill. I can't remember the last convention Ernie missed.
Tonight, unfortunately, we have this sad news:
Ernie was one of my childhood heroes, though by the time I first started watching Cubs games in 1963, he was on the downside of his Hall of Fame career, which included back-to-back MVP awards in 1958 and 1959, the first National Leaguer to accomplish that. All told he hit 512 home runs, at the time of his retirement that ranked tied for ninth all-time. He's still 22nd on the all-time home run list and also still holds many club records.
Beyond that, Ernie was beloved for his sunny personality, coining the phrase "Friendly Confines" to describe Wrigley Field and saying "Let's play two!" on coming to the ballpark each day.
I'll have much more on Ernie over the next couple of days but wanted to get this sad news out to you tonight.