CHICAGO — "You're calling about the 500th home run, right?" was how Pat Jarvis opened a phone conversation with DNAinfo on Wednesday afternoon.
Jarvis is the Atlanta Braves pitcher who allowed Ernie Banks' 500th home run in the second inning of a game at Wrigley Field on May 12, 1970.
"I hung that slider, and that was it, see you later," Jarvis said. "I wasn't trying to give it to him. I was too much of a competitor for that."
Jarvis said Banks, who died Jan. 23 at age 83, was "definitely a Hall of Famer."
"Let's play two, that's all he'd say," Jarvis said laughing.
Jarvis, who grew up in downstate Carlyle and was a St. Louis Cardinals fan, was signed by the Cubs as a free agent in 1960, but he never played on the North Side. His major league career spanned from 1966 to 1973, with all of those seasons except the last in Atlanta. He finished with an 85-73 career record, a 3.58 earned run average and 755 strikeouts.
Justin Breen says Jarvis remembers the pitch well:
He's best-known for giving up the home run to Banks and serving as Nolan Ryan's first strikeout victim.
"I went into the back door of the Hall of Fame, and Ernie went in the front door," Jarvis said. "Every time they play the [home run] highlight on TV, a lot of people who know me call me and say I'm giving up that 500th home run again."
Jarvis, who turns 74 on March 18, doesn't remember the last time he saw Banks, but thinks it was at an old-timers game.
And Jarvis — who served as DeKalb County (Georgia) sheriff for nearly 20 years and owns a nursery in Rutledge, Ga. — noted he was glad Banks had a big ceremony for his funeral, which included a procession past Wrigley Field.
"He was a great man," Jarvis said.
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