January 31 is quite the baseball birthday. Not only was Jackie Robinson born 95 years ago on the 31st, but this also marks the 83rd birthday for Hall of Famer and Cubs icon Ernie Banks. Oh, and it's also Nolan Ryan's 67th birthday.
What a trio.
I was actually going to post Ryan's as well, but that isn't available. Anyway, let's dive in on Banks and note some interesting points.
•Quality adjective use of "lithe" in illustrating Banks' apparently supple legs. Frank Robinson must have been jealous in the choice of adjective (you don't get the reference, but you will in a minute).
•The "weakness" category is impressive, because we have to keep in the mind the job of the scout is to scrutinize in addition to evaluate. For example, in the scouting report that very year of future Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, the following were listed as weaknesses: "Skinny legs, uppercuts ball at times."
In seeing Banks play 13 games, however, Hugh Wise believed Banks had no weakness.
•The times, they have changed ... a recommended $10,000 signing bonus for an MLB-ready player? Masahiro Tanaka is MLB-ready and just signed a seven-year, $155 million deal.
•The "can play now" part rang true. The date of the player report can be seen above as July 28, 1953. Banks debuted with the Chicago Cubs Sept. 17 of that year, going 0-for-3 with a walk and run scored. In the next two games, though, Banks would go 5-for-10 with a triple, homer and five RBI. I believe we call that announcing his presence with authority (right, Nuke LaLoosh?). The rest was history.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Cub. Let's play two.