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'Let's Play 2' Every Year To Honor Ernie Banks

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Bringing back the scheduled single-admission doubleheader once a year for Mr. Cub is a wonderful idea.

Louis Requena/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Doubleheaders, the scheduled variety, anyway, are a thing of baseball's past. Originally conceived as a way to get more customers to the ballpark ("Two for the price of one!"), they wound up costing owners too much money by taking home dates off the schedule. The heyday of doubleheaders was the 1950s; in 1957 the Cubs played 17 doubleheaders at Wrigley Field, reducing the 77 home games into 60 home dates. (And had a further 13 twin bills on the road!) Without an original 1957 schedule, I can't say how many of those 17 were scheduled, but it's likely half or even more -- teams often played doubleheaders on most home Sundays and all holidays in that era.

The Cubs' last scheduled single-admission doubleheader at Wrigley Field was July 4, 1983, a holiday Monday against the Montreal Expos. (The Cubs got swept.) Since then, doubleheaders at Wrigley have been played only as makeup dates for rainouts, with the exception of the split DH against the Washington Nationals last June, scheduled to avoid conflict with the annual Pride Parade in the Wrigleyville area. The last single-admission doubleheader of any kind at Wrigley Field was August 3, 2006 against the Arizona Diamondbacks. That occurred because that date was the last scheduled game between the two teams in 2006, the previous night had been rained out, and no common off days were available for a makeup game. (The Cubs lost the first game and won the nightcap.)

I bring all this up, of course, because of Ernie Banks and his cheerful "Let's play two!" mantra, something that has to bring smiles to the faces of any baseball fan. Who wouldn't want more baseball?

Here's a proposal made on CSN Chicago Monday morning that I could get behind, although logistics might make it tough for this year:

Legendary sportscaster Bob Costas shared his memories of Banks and he had the idea that the St. Louis Cardinals and Cubs play a true doubleheader (not a day-night doubleheader) and have "every player who was associated in any way with Ernie Banks" show up.

The Cubs and Cardinals meet at Wrigley Field to open the 2015 season on Easter Sunday. It would be a good time for the teams to adopt Banks' "Let's play two" mindset, given everybody should be somewhat fresh after spring training and the teams could have Monday and Tuesday off afterwards without disrupting the schedule.

Right now, the Cubs and Cardinals are scheduled to play Sunday night, Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon. I suppose it'd be possible for the two teams to play a single-admission doubleheader Sunday, though that might make it tough for ESPN, scheduled to carry the game at 7:05 CT. Or, the teams could play a doubleheader Tuesday or Wednesday.

Or, since 2015 schedules are already out, why not take some time and try to figure out a way to do this every year starting in 2016? I think having the Cubs and Cardinals, traditional rivals, play a single-admission doubleheader once a year at Wrigley Field would be awesome. The Cubs could charge a higher price for that one date -- more than a single Cubs/Cardinals game but somewhat less than two games -- to make up for some of the difference in losing a home date. It'd be a guaranteed sellout, I'd think.

If they do this, it should be a daytime affair, starting at 12 noon, as Cubs afternoon doubleheaders did from 1974 through 2006. And make it on a weekday, too -- that way, the Cubs wouldn't be giving up a weekend date, and you might get a bigger crowd on a day that wouldn't otherwise be SRO.

It wouldn't have to be on a specific date every year, though some have proposed May 12 (the date of Ernie's 500th home run) or September 17 (the anniversary of his major-league debut). Just the idea of doing this every season in tribute to Ernie and the idea of "playing two" would be good enough, I think.

I hope the Cubs and Major League Baseball give serious consideration to doing this. It would be the ultimate honor for the greatest and most beloved Cub ever.