Ernie Banks' 500th Home Run was Highlight of Eventful 1970 Cub Season
Anniversary of historic home run is May 12; story of home run told in new book.
"It's hard to pick a number one moment from a season that saw the Cubs put five players on the field who would go on to make the Hall of Fame and the closest pennant race featuring the Cubs in the last 80 years, but the one that Cub fans remember—even if they weren't born yet—is Mr. Cub's 500th homer," Bike said.
When he hit his 500th homer on May 12, 1970, Ernie Banks became only the ninth player in baseball history to join the elite club of baseball's best bashers—"a sure ticket to the Hall of Fame, not that there was any doubt that Ernie would make it," Bike said.
In 2021, the "500 homer club" now has 27 members.
"The Cubs added the 'basket' surrounding the outfield walls in 1970, so Cub fans were worried about Ernie's 500th being a 'cheapie,'" Bike noted. "But that didn't happen. Banks hit a line shot into the left field bleachers that was hit so hard that nobody could handle it and it ricocheted back onto the field. Atlanta Brave outfielder Rico Carty retrieved it and gave it to Cub Willie Smith, who presented Ernie with the souvenir ball immediately."
Banks nearly tallied his 500th two days before in front of a huge Mother's Day Wrigley Field crowd against the Big Red Machine Cincinnati Reds—in a unique way.
"Reds pitcher Wayne Simpson good-naturedly vowed that Ernie wouldn't hit his 500th that day, but he nearly did," Bike explained. "Ernie took Simpson deep for a triple that bounced around the iconic Wrigley Field vines. As he steamed into third, Ernie thought about continuing on to home. Had he done so, his 500th would have been that rarest of rarities in baseball—an inside the park home run."
The Forgotten 1970 Chicago Cubs: Go and Glow, published by The History Press/Arcadia Publishing of Charleston, SC, can be obtained at https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/
Central Park Communications