Updated 01/28/15 – 11:30 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Fans of “Mister Cub” Ernie Banks crowded into Daley Plaza on Wednesday, after his statue was installed as a public tribute to arguably the most popular Cubs player of all time.

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The statue will be the centerpiece for a public memorial through Saturday, the day that would be Banks’ 84th birthday, and will also be the day of his funeral.

Banks died of a heart attack on Friday at the age of 83.

Banks’s widow, Liz and Mayor Rahm Emanuel set a wreath at the base of the statue around 10:45 a.m. Wednesday, and paused to remember the man who loved baseball, Chicago, and the Cubs.

“While Ernie Banks was ‘Mister Cubs,’ and always known as ‘Mister Cubs;’ he actually now, and always will be, and always has been ‘Mister Chicago,’” Emanuel said.

The first African-American player to suit up for the Cubs, Banks was possibly the best power-hitting shortstop of all time.

When Banks died last weekend, fans all over the nation were heartsick over the loss of “Mister Cub.”

“Ernie was baseball. Ernie was summertime. Ernie was Chicago,” said Mary Jo Perlongo.

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For Fred Chapekis, of Northbrook, Banks wasn’t just a baseball player, Banks was synonymous with his childhood. So much so that, when he and his buddies would play sandlot ball, they would channel Banks each time they entered the batter’s box.

“Our right elbow up, and our fingers moving on the bat like he did, and when we hit a ball over the fence, we would all think we were part Ernie,” Chapekis said.

Banks’ eternal optimism helped him become a symbol of the sunny side of life.

“He always said it don’t cost nothing to be nice,” said Cubs superfan Ronnie “Woo Woo” Wickers.

A 7-foot bronze monument to Banks was installed outside Wrigley Field in 2008. It stood there until renovations of the stadium began last fall, and the statue itself has been undergoing maintenance and repairs. It was hoisted onto Daley Plaza late Tuesday night.

After Saturday, it will be moved back into storage until it is fully restored, and later returned to Wrigley Field.

Banks, who played for the Cubs all 19 seasons of his career, was a 14-time All-Star, and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997.

A public visitation for Banks has been scheduled for Friday, from noon to 8 p.m. at Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E. Chestnut St. A memorial service has been scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m.

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In lieu of flowers, the Cubs and Banks’ family have asked for donations in his memory to Cubs Charities, at www.cubs.com/give.