cover image Let’s Play Two: The Life and Times of Ernie Banks

Let’s Play Two: The Life and Times of Ernie Banks

Doug Wilson. Rowman & Littlefield, $24.95 (240p) ISBN 978-1-5381-1229-8

In this exuberant biography, Wilson (Pudge: The Biography of Carlton Fisk) takes an in-depth look at Ernie Banks (1931–2015), the beloved Chicago Cubs player whose trademark phrase “Let’s play two” summed up his joy at playing the sport. Drawing from interviews with Banks’s childhood friends and teammates, Wilson delivers a solid look at the Hall of Famer, who played his entire 19-season career for the Cubs and amassed 512 home runs. He takes readers from Banks’s childhood in segregated Dallas of the 1940s through his early years as a member of the Negro League’s Kansas City Monarchs (“Midwestern white fans had never before had cause to cheer for a black man”), and to Chicago, where Banks developed his genial “Mr. Cub” persona, which came out of his belief in the American Dream and in “hard work and patience, and being a good role model.” In workmanlike prose, Wilson expertly chronicles Banks’s development as a player, presenting a detailed look at how he was “one of the two best shortstops the game has even known,” until a 1961 injury forced him to play first base for the rest of his career. This is an insightful look at the truth and the legend of the man forever known as “Mr. Cub.” (Feb.)