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Buy for $29.65
The definitive and revealing biography of Chicago Cubs legend Ernie Banks, one of America's most iconic, beloved, and misunderstood baseball players, by acclaimed journalist Ron Rapoport.
Ernie Banks, the first-ballot Hall of Famer and All-Century Team shortstop, played in 14 All-Star Games, won two MVPs, and twice led the Major Leagues in home runs and runs batted in. He outslugged Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Mickey Mantle when they were in their prime, but while they made repeated World Series appearances in the 1950s and 60s, Banks spent his entire career with the woebegone Chicago Cubs, who didn't win a pennant in his adult lifetime.
Today, Banks is remembered best for his signature phrase, "Let's play two", which has entered the American lexicon and exemplifies the enthusiasm that endeared him to fans everywhere. But Banks' public display of good cheer was a mask that hid a deeply conflicted, melancholy, and often quite lonely man. Despite the poverty and racism he endured as a young man, he was among the star players of baseball's early days of integration who were reluctant to speak out about civil rights. Being known as one of the greatest players never to reach the World Series also took its toll. At one point, Banks even saw a psychiatrist to see if that would help. It didn't. Yet Banks smiled through it all, enduring the scorn of Cubs manager Leo Durocher as an aging superstar and never uttering a single complaint.
Let's Play Two is based on numerous conversations with Banks and on interviews with more than 100 of his family members, teammates, friends, and associates as well as oral histories, court records, and thousands of other documents and sources. Together, they explain how Banks was so different from the caricature he created for the public. The audiobook tells of Banks' early life in segregated Dallas, his years in the Negro Leagues, and his difficult life after retirement; and it features compelling portraits of Buck O'Neil, Philip K. Wrigley, the Bleacher Bums, the doomed pennant race of 1969, and much more from a long-lost baseball era.
"Rapoport, a 20-year veteran sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, delivers what is sure to be the definitive biography of Chicago Cubs baseball player Ernie Banks.... This marvelous look at the life of a beloved athlete should be essential reading for baseball fan." (Publishers Weekly)
"This is a wonderful book worthy of all the energy and vitality Ernie Banks brought to his remarkable career. But it is also a revealing portrait of the often difficult life of a black ballplayer in America and the often lonely man imprisoned and isolated by his exuberant outer image." (Ken Burns)
"Hooray! Ernie Banks now has the Hall-of-Fame biography he deserves thanks to Ron Rapoport. This well-researched, beautifully written book is everything a baseball fan could want. Cubs fans, of course, will want to buy two." (Jonathan Eig, the author of Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig and Ali: A Life)
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A Great Story, A must read for Ernie Banks fans
I thought I knew everything there was to know about my childhood hero, but Ron Rapoport's book is so thoroughly researched and well written, so readable and fascinating, that I felt as if I was just introduced to Ernie Banks for the first time.
I loved the many anecdotes about Ernie's personality quirks (both positive and negative), his photographic memory and ability to relate to perfect strangers, remembering minor details about their lives many years later, and his resiliency in confronting racism, jealousy from his legendary manager, and being on a team that never played in October. In my opinion, "Let's Play Two" is one of the best baseball biographies of all time, and it leaves the reader with a deeper understanding of Ernie Banks' greatness, as a ballplayer and a man. The countless number of interviews with people involved in virtually every phase of Ernie's life gives a whole new perspective on a man we all thought we've known so well.
Charley Steiner does an outstanding job as the narrator because he is obviously not merely reading words on a page, he clearly understood the author's story and conveyed it with great passion.
I grew up watching Ernie at Wrigley field and was so looking forward to this book. What a total disappointment. There is way too much written about everything else going on during his time on the Cubs. While some references to the history that shaped his career is necessary, there is no need to spend hours talking about his family, Leo Durocher, etc. Charley Steiner is a really great Sports Announcer, but book narrator, not so much