Baseball Hall of Famer Ernie Banks will headline the 6th Annual Don Meyer Evening of Excellence on April 19 at 5:30 p.m. at Allen Arena.
Known as “Mr. Cub” to his adoring fans, Banks was a 14-time Major League All-Star with the Chicago Cubs from 1953-1971. He won back-to-back National League Most Valuable Player Awards in 1958 and 1959.
A Cub for all 19 of his seasons in Major League Baseball, he was the first black player to play for the Cubs in 1953 and was the first Cubbie to have his number retired (14) in 1982. Banks was also honored just last fall as a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
“The Don Meyer Evening of Excellence has had great guests over the years and we are thrilled to add Ernie Banks’ name to the Lipscomb lineup card,” said Lipscomb athletics director Philip Hutcheson. “Ernie Banks is one of those ‘Mount Rushmore’ kind of figures when it comes to the world of baseball's greatest ambassadors.
“Not only was he a Hall of Fame player on the field, but the joy that he brought to the game, the way he connected with his community and the work he did to promote what's good about sports would have gotten him in Cooperstown even if he never played an inning.”
The hard-hitting shortstop was discovered as a standout with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League. During his tenure with the Monarchs, Banks played in Nashville at storied Sulphur Dell before the Cubs purchased the prospect’s contract.
Banks debuted for the Cubs at age 22 without having ever played a minor league baseball game. The Texas native would go on to smash 512 home runs and is the Cubs all-time leader not only in long balls but also in games played (2,528), at bats (9,421), total bases (4,706) and extra-base hits (1,009).
Today, the 83-year old Banks is involved with a number of organizations and is working on starting a foundation to boost science, technology, engineering and math among the nation’s youth.
"My life is now about raising money for different organizations centered around the humanities,” said Banks. “I support organizations that are helping people improve their lives. There are a lot of people doing the wrong thing and the wrong time with the wrong people. I want to help match them up with the right thing at the right time with the right people."
Banks joins the roster of previous Don Meyer Evening of Excellence guests including Coach Don Meyer, Tim Tebow, Mike Krzyzewski, Brad Stevens and stars of A&E’s Duck Dynasty Phil, Kay and Si Robertson.
“The Chicago Cubs are one of those handful of teams that transcend their city and who have avid fans all across the world,” said Hutcheson. “So to have the man who is known to every sports fan as "Mr. Cub" here at Lipscomb University promises to make this another special night.”
The Don Meyer Evening of Excellence is an annual athletic fundraising event that began in 2009 and is named after long-time Lipscomb men’s basketball coach Don Meyer, who retired as the winningest collegiate men’s basketball coach in the history of the sport. Meyer was awarded the “Jimmy V Award for Perseverance” from ESPN at the ESPY Awards in July 2009 following a life-changing car accident and cancer diagnosis.
General admission tickets for the event are $25 and can be purchased by visiting http://www.