Ernie Banks, one of baseball’s all-time greats as a player and as a person off the diamond, died Friday. He was 83.
His sunny disposition and skills on the field took off when his professional baseball career began with the Negro Leagues in Kansas City. Cool Papa Bell, another former Negro Leagues player and a Baseball Hall of Famer, tipped off Kansas City Monarchs manager Buck O’Neil on the raw abilities of Ernie Banks.
At the time O’Neil, who died in 2006, had not seen Banks play.