Ernie Banks, beloved by all and known around baseball as Mr. Cub, passed away January 23. Thursday, the Cubs announced plans to honor the Hall of Famer all year long.
"There is no level of recognition that can properly acknowledge how much Ernie Banks meant to this franchise and fan base," said Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts. "Collectively, we must ensure Mr. Cub’s legacy rightfully lives on at the Friendly Confines and with future generations of baseball fans."
The first tribute will be noticeable in spring training. The Cubs will wear a No. 14 patch on both home and away jerseys all year, including during camp. For the first games of the spring season, split-squad dates in Mesa with the Athletics and in Scottsdale with the Giants March 5, the team will wear No. 14 caps. (Nice coincidence, somehow, that on the first day of any Cubs baseball in 2015, they are "playing two." Ernie, no doubt, would love it.) There will also be "acknowledgments," the Cubs say, at the March 5 game at Sloan Park.
There will be a pregame ceremony honoring Ernie before the Opening Night game between the Cubs and Cardinals April 5 at Wrigley Field, and everyone in attendance that night will receive an Ernie Banks commemorative pin. It's scheduled to be the first game with the new video board in left field, too, and the Cubs say that fans will see "many other tributes" to Ernie throughout the evening -- a great use of the board, in my view.
The Cubs also say that a collection of videos, photos and articles have been posted to Cubs.com over the last several weeks, while the team’s Vine Line Magazine will publish a special feature edition honoring Mr. Cub in March, and that additional tributes will be finalized and incorporated throughout the 2015 season.