Let’s play two

first_imgBy Paul B. PerkinsonFor over 10 years while we lived in a northern suburb of the city, my three kids had the illness that is known as being a Chicago Cubs fan. They joined the multitude in the Midwest every April dreaming, “This year… this year we are going to the World Series.” Every year, sometime in June or July, a dismal reality would set in. The Cubs were going nowhere again. It is hard to be a Cubs fan.The Cubs’ greatest fan in history died yesterday. It caught my breath when I read about it. I should have seen it coming. Ernie Banks died. A man who played for the Cubs for nearly two decades and who, in all of those years, never played in October… never a single post-season game. Not once. Not one at bat, not one put out. Not one.Yet Banks’ love for the game and spirited enthusiasm remained undaunted his entire life.This is placeholder textThis is placeholder textBanks is famous for saying “It’s a great day for baseball. Let’s play two.” As a kid, I learned this motto, recited it as creed, and whispered it on Saturday mornings as I skipped to the Little League field. Regardless of age, has-been ballplayers across America can look at each other and say, “Let’s play two,” and thereby relive that moment of welcoming the grand possibilities of play.Banks got it. He captured in three words the ways in which someone can love an activity so dearly that failed season after failed season could not deprive or depress or dispel.In 1958, Banks became the first player from a team with a losing record to be awarded the National League Most Valuable Player. He beat out Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.By most modern measurements however, Banks’ career is a failed one. He never led a team into playoff competition. To do that is one of the standards we have for “great” baseball players. He never did that.The story of his greatness is quite different… perhaps more heroic. In a culture that is more and more seduced by standards, Banks seemed to care about them, but never allow them to have the last word. He had the last word. “Let’s play two.”You don’t have to be a baseball fan to love and admire this undaunted spirit. You have but to cherish some activity so fully that no person and no disappointment and no event and no words can deprive you of the joy in the endeavor… the thrill of whatever’s next… the love of the play.“The riches of the game are in the thrills, not in the money.”— Ernie Bankslast_img read more

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