(CBS) – Ernie Banks, the legendary Chicago baseball player known as “Mr. Cub,” died Friday night, a family attorney said.
He was 83.
The announcement came Friday evening from Chicago lawyer Mark Bogen, who said he was authorized by Banks’ widow, Liz, to confirm the news to the media. A news conference was planned for Sunday at noon in Chicago, said Bogen, who declined further comment.
“Words cannot express how important Ernie Banks will always be to the Chicago Cubs, the city of Chicago and Major League Baseball. He was one of the greatest players of all time,” Tom Ricketts, chairman of the Cubs, said in a prepared statement. “He was a pioneer in the major leagues. And more importantly, he was the warmest and most sincere person I’ve ever known.”
“My family and I grieve the loss of such a great and good-hearted man, but we look forward to celebrating Ernie’s life in the days ahead,” Ricketts added.
Related: Emma: Ernie Banks Was A Hall Of Fame Person
Born in January 1931, Banks was an infielder who spent his entire career with the Chicago Cubs, from 1953 to 1971. He was an 14-time All-Star and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977, his first year of eligibility.
Banks hit 512 career home runs, which is tied for 22nd all-time. He was a career .274 hitter and had 1,636 RBIs, 29th all-time.
Banks is the Cubs’ franchise leader in games played and won the National League MVP in 1958 and 1959. He ranks second in Cubs franchise history in home runs, RBIs and hits (2,583).
Over the course of his career, Banks was a fan favorite. That was a testament to his determined play and infectious positive attitude as the best player on teams that were often bad. One of his famous lines was “Let’s play two,” the root of which was his joy to take the diamond in front of the Wrigley Field faithful.
For all of Banks’ effort and brilliance, he never made the postseason once in his career. He almost did in 1969, before the Cubs infamously blew a big lead over the Mets by losing 17 of their last 25 games.
In 1982, Banks had his No. 14 jersey retired, the first Cubs player to receive such an honor. In 2008, the Cubs unveiled a statue outside Wrigley Field that honored him.
“Ernie Banks was more than a baseball player,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a written statement. “He was one of Chicago’s greatest ambassadors. He loved this city as much as he loved — and lived for — the game of baseball. This year, during every Cubs game, you can bet that No.14 will be watching over his team. And if we’re lucky, it’ll be a beautiful day for not just one ballgame, but two. My deepest sympathy to his wife, Liz, family, and friends.”
In 2013, President Barack Obama awarded Banks the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
News of Banks’ passing sent shockwaves through the sports world and among fans Friday evening. The Twitterverse was quickly filled with tributes to “Mr. Cub.”
RIP Ernie banks/ sad day for Chicago and cubs nation – great human being
— John Cusack (@johncusack) January 24, 2015
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) January 24, 2015