Opening Day on March 31, 2008 was a raw, rainy affair, but nothing was going to rain on Ernie Banks parade. Mr. Cub was honored that day as the first player from the franchise to have his own statue and the dedication ceremony was held along Clark Street at 11am that morning.
Local sculptor Lou Cella used a Banks at-bat vs. Warren Spahn in 1959 as the inspiration for the statue and when it was unveiled, Banks loved the new addition to his Friendly Confines.
Banks was joined by long-time teammates Billy Williams and Ron Santo at the ceremony and was honored that old friend Hank Aaron made the trek to be there as well. “You were the greatest ambassador for baseball, and you still are a great ambassador for baseball,” Aaron said in his brief remarks.
For Ernie, it was a dream come true that still tickles him to this day. “Having the statue at Wrigley Field is a great honor and I am just so pleased that Jesse Jackson, John McDonough, the Cub organization, and the fans bestowed this honor on me. It’s different, and it’s hard for me to believe I’ve done anything for a statue. In Chicago, people here like to honor their heroes and that is often the athletes. Chicago is amazing and as I thought about it, the more I thought about it and shared it with my kids, I thought this is amazing. Even when I’m not here, I’ll be here!”
– Bob Vorwald