PHOTO: Barack Obama awards Ernie Banks Presidential Medal of Freedom

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President Barack Obama just announced that MLB Hall of Famer and “Mr. Cub” Ernie Banks is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“I am humbled and honored to receive this great award and to be among such distinguished honorees,” said Ernie Banks in a statement from the Chicago Cubs.

“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.”

 

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President Obama recently awarded a medal of freedom to another former athlete, Celtics legend Bill Russell.

Ernie Banks is not the first baseball player to receive the award. The list of MLB vets includes: 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).

According to  a White House spokesperson, The Medal of Freedom is the highest honor awarded to civilians in the United States. It was established in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy and is presented to those who 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.”

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There is a statue of Ernie Banks, with his trademark phrase “Let’s Play Two” outside Wrigley Field today.

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, a Fox Sports affiliate. He is also an analyst for 95.7 The Fan, and writes on Chicago sports media for Chicago Now. President Obama follows his Twitter account (@PaulMBanks)

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  1. YankeeRay says:

    AWESOME!!!!!! EVERYBODY LOVES Ernie Banks..Just think what it means for him to be given this award by an african-american president.During his lifetime Ernie Banks experienced real racial prejudice.He has travelled from that america-of-the-past to become personally recognized as a great american,beloved by so many and receive this award from our first african president.He must think he’s dreaming.

  2. william baxter says:

    Mr. Banks was my role model since 1966. I believed in him before I believed in Dr.King!

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