DOWNTOWN — Cubs legend Ernie Banks died of a heart attack Friday, his family's attorney said in a press conference Sunday.
Banks, the ebullient infielder honored with a statue outside Wrigley Field, died a week before his 84th birthday, attorney Mark Bogen told reporters.
He said funeral plans are in the works. The Cubs announced Sunday that the statue of Banks that normally stands outside Wrigley Field will be placed in Daley Plaza for fans to honor him. The statue will remain there from Wednesday through Saturday.
"I want you to know that he was very beloved, and he will be dearly missed by family, friends and all of his fans," said Banks' wife, Liz, who introduced Bogen and took no questions.
"People have called Ernie Banks an ambassador for baseball, but in reality, he was an ambassador for humanity," Bogen said, listing Banks' charitable passions, which included sick children, the military and gay rights.
Banks was also one of the few Americans awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Bogen added.
The ballplayer was always happy to chat with fans, Bogen said. But not about himself.
"He loved people and wanted to hear their stories, their lives, not talk about his," Bogen said. "Instead of talking about baseball, he would talk about life."
Bogen said one of Banks' favorite quotes was: "Life is a song, sing it. Life is a game, play it. Life is a challenge, meet it. Life is a dream, realize it. Life is a sacrifice, offer it. Life is love, enjoy it now."
Fans of the legendary baseball player can share quotes and memories on a dedicated Facebook page: Ernie Banks Remembered.
The Cubs and Mayor Rahm Emanuel praised Banks in a joint statement.
“Ernie Banks’ legacy extends far beyond his Hall of Fame stats. He was beloved by generations of people for the way he played on the field and – more importantly – for the kind and warm person he was off the field,” Emanuel said. “We are bringing Ernie’s statue to Daley Plaza to honor not just one of the best ballplayers of all time, but a great man who made our city proud from the day we first met him in 1953.”
Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts echoed the mayor.
"Ernie Banks was a great player and an even better person,” he said. “He was a kind, gentle man who loved his fans as much as they loved him. We couldn't think of a better way to honor Ernie than to allow those fans a way to pay their final respects to this great man."
The Cubs and Wrigley Field are 95 percent owned by a trust established for the benefit of the family of Joe Ricketts, owner and CEO of DNAinfo.com. Joe Ricketts has no direct involvement in the management of the iconic team.
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