Homer Happy: Ernie Banks
When Ernie Banks broke into the major leagues at the end of the 1953 season, he didn’t look like a shortstop. And he certainly didn’t swing the bat like one.
Shortstops weren’t supposed to be power hitters. They were in the lineup for their arms and gloves and their ability to cover plenty of space on the left side of the infield.
Banks could do all that. He could also produce runs the way no shortstop had done since Honus Wagner at the beginning of the Twentieth Century.
Banks hit 19 home runs as a rookie in 1954, and then blasted 44 home runs a year later. No shortstop had ever hit that many. (And only one other shortstop – Alex Rodriguez – has hit more.)
Banks hit 40 or more home runs in a season five times, the last being 1960 when he launched 41 homers and drove in 117 runs. He also won the Gold Glove in 1960, the first player to win it while leading the league in home runs.