cover image Let’s Play Two: The Legend of Mr. Cub, the Life of Ernie Banks

Let’s Play Two: The Legend of Mr. Cub, the Life of Ernie Banks

Ron Rapoport. Hachette, $28 (464p) ISBN 978-0-316-31863-1

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 (1931–2015), a man known by fans as “Mr. Cub.” Through more than 100 interviews with Banks’s family, friends, and teammates, Rapoport traces a complicated life that was masked by a “constant public display of good cheer” during Banks’s career, summed up in his signature line: “It’s a beautiful day for a ball game, let’s play two.” Rapoport expertly describes the skills that made Banks a Hall of Famer in 1977, particularly how Banks “transformed the nature of power hitting” through a combination of upper body strength and a light bat, a practice that Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle copied. Rapoport reveals how throughout his life Banks masked his “tortured soul”—in his childhood of poverty in Dallas; while playing in the Negro Leagues in Kansas City; during the move to the Cubs in 1953, where he had to deal with the city’s segregation; and playing under hypercritical manager Leo Durocher during his final years. This marvelous look at the life of a beloved athlete should be essential reading for baseball fans, and Cubs lovers especially. [em](Mar.) [/em]