Stop the presses! I gotta mourn the REAL Ernie Banks!

Ernie Banks was a spectacular ballplayer and special guy.  But, Ernie, with all respect, I'm getting the idea from media response your passing, and the recent passing of Mayor Byrne as well, that Chicago is living in the past. Makes me wonder: have Chicagoans (and/or its media) simply given up on the city's future? Instead of informing, inspiring and mobilizing Chicagoans to solve critical problems like youth violence, media spend so much time these days celebrating fallen heroes and merely mourning murder after murder of innocent teen victims like Hadiya Pendleton . . .

Anyway, so does it feel high up there in firmament of the media-driven Star System that gives Chicagoans such an imperfect idea of how people actually think about the issues of the day? It listens only to you stars, seldom to the people. And it remembers you only in certain idealized, superficial ways. In your case, you were always smiling, always full of love, always boosting baseball, the Cubs and Chicago. That was you! Of course it was a role you played, and played to perfection, no doubt enjoying it most of the time. But Ernie: did you want to be remembered only for this role?

Your own words, below, reveal the man behind the role, a black athlete deeply concerned with the issues of the day. But before hearing them, let's pay homage to your deification in Chicago's daily newspapers. In the Tribune in began on Saturday:



And in  the Saturday Sun-Times:



Then I saw the Sun-Times front page for Sunday:



The Sunday Tribune did likewise. But its front page was missing from Newseum site. So here's the front page of the Sports section:


Get the idea? Seen enough? Was this the REAL you? I'm sparing you soupy clips of reverential talking heads on TV news and talk radio shows. It was all the same thing, over and over again.

Isn't all this hoopla overdoing it just a bit? Makes me wonder: are Chicagoans living in the past - or is it just Chicago's media? At the poll at the toolbar on the right, you (and others) can vote your opinions.

And now, for anyone who wants to see and hear the REAL Ernie Banks, here are two clips from a terrific 2004 interview. You are looking fine and sharp as a tack at the ripe old age 73. These clips? We certainly aren't seeing them anywhere in Chicago's media today.

In the first clip you talk admiringly about what you yourself did not do: about how Jackie Robinson and Curt Flood stood up and made a difference and fought and paid the price - Flood especially for challenging baseball's reserve clause - for what all of you knew was right and just. You also discuss the cautious "Listen and Learn" image that you picked up from Robinson, an image that white Chicago chose to interpret as your joyful affirmation of a status quo about which you actually had severe misgivings.   



In this second clip you bring us up to date about alarming changes in American culture that have resulted in fewer blacks in baseball and given us gangs and drugs: what today we call "youth violence".

Your thoughts in these and other great Visionary Project clips of Ernie Banks on YouTube make me think that in addition to the media-driven Star System that pretty much calls the shots in Chicago you would have liked to see a future-oriented, media-driven People System committed to informing, inspiring and mobilizing young people and adults in Chicago to address and resolve gigantic, systemic problems like youth violence.

"Let's Play 2!"  

R.I.P. the REAL Ernie Banks


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