(CBS) Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks has been named a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, President Barack Obama announced on Thursday.
“I am humbled and honored to receive this great award and to be among such distinguished honorees,” said Banks. “I have spent my life trying to help others enjoy and appreciate the sport I love. I thank President Obama for all his efforts. The Chicago Cubs and Cubs fans everywhere share in this award as their support makes me proud to continue to work on behalf of America’s greatest game.”
“This honor is well deserved for a man who has done so much for the game of baseball, said Tom Ricketts, chairman of the Cubs. “His contributions on and off the field have made a monumental impact to society. He is a great American ambassador who continues to spend his time and effort helping others love and appreciate America’s pastime.
“On behalf of my family and Cubs fans everywhere, we are extremely proud of Ernie. Besides being one of the all-time greatest baseball players, Ernie has been a tremendous role model for young people and his zest for life, represented by his credo “Let’s Play Two”, has been an inspiration to generations of Cubs fans.”
The Medal of Freedom is the highest honor awarded to civilians in the United States. Established in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy, the Medal is presented to those how have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
Banks joins Hank Aaron (2002), Roberto Clemente (2003) Joe DiMaggio (1977), Stan Musial (2011), Buck O’Neil (2006), Frank Robinson (2005), Jackie Robinson (1984) and Ted Williams (1991) as Medal of Freedom honorees.