CHICAGO – There wasn’t a lot of sunshine, but there was plenty of fresh air. The team was behind him, and so were the 5,264 fans.
The Cubs didn’t play two that day, but Ernie Banks hit one, and that’s all that was needed to make May 12, 1970 one for the history books.
Tuesday marks the 50th anniversary of his 500th career home run that came against the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field.
It came in the second inning with no one on base with Banks facing pitcher Pat Jarvis. On the third pitch of the at-bat, Banks send a high line drive deep to left field and into the first row of the bleachers for the historic blast.
“That’s it! That’s it! Hey Hey! He did it! Ernie Banks got No. 500!” exclaimed legendary Cubs’ play-by-play announcer Jack Brickhouse on the WGN-TV broadcast that afternoon.
Banks happily ran around the bases as the crowd gave him a loud standing ovation. Upon returning to the dugout, “Mr. Cub” took a bow with the historic 500th baseball in his hands.
Banks is one of the just 27 players in the history of the game to hit at least 500 homers, finishing his career with 512. That stood as the team record until Sammy Sosa broke it in the 2000s (545)
Yet this moment endures as one of the greatest in the century-long history of the Chicago Cubs. It’s not only the milestone itself but the man who hit it that makes it such a powerful memory.
He didn’t need two on that day. All he needed was one to create a moment that endures a half-century later.