Ernie Banks. Wikipedia.

What a Journey Ernie Banks—from the Negro leagues to the Major leagues to the Hall of Fame. 

Ernie, the first African American to play for the Chicago Cubs becomes “Mr. Cub,” also known to the public as “Mr. Sunshine.” 

Privately he has a most remarkable mind, comedic timing and searing commentary on race, relationships and business. He is a marketing genius.

Explaining to my children who he is several years ago, I said, “Think Michael Jordan in Chicago in the 1990’s, with a few differences as to why Ernie would be even greater.” Ernie was within earshot, but could not hear me. 

“Imagine Jordan living in the black community in segregated Chicago at the height of his career, coaching the neighborhood team, taking the neighborhood kids to his games.”

“Imagine Jordan with sunny optimism for 19 seasons without a championship, but still keeping faith for a lifetime of inspiration for most of us who will never accomplish all of our goals.”

“Imagine Jordan never really leaving Chicago for his entire career and his entire life— always part of the city, forever only belonging only to us.” 

That’s Ernie.

—Rev. Marshall Hatch, Austin