January 31 is a red letter day in baseball history. Not only is it the birthdate of three Hall Famers, but the three figures (Ernie Banks, Jackie Robinson and Nolan Ryan) are among the most legendary in the game.
Cooperstown Trifectas: Birthdates Shared by Three Hall of Famers
|January 31||Nolan Ryan||Jackie Robinson||Ernie Banks|
|April 2||Luke Appling||Hughie Jennings||Don Sutton|
|April 6||Bert Blyleven||Mickey Cochrane||Ernie Lombardi|
|May 14||Tony Perez||Ed Walsh||Earle Combs|
|August 22||Paul Molitor||Ned Hanlon||Carl Yastrzemski|
|September 9||Waite Hoyt||Frankie Frisch||Frank Chance|
|October 3||Fred Clarke||Dennis Eckersley||Dave Winfield|
|December 25||Rickey Henderson||Pud Galvin||Nellie Fox|
Robinson would have been 92, and Ryan turns 64, but the focus of this post is Banks, who reaches the milestone of 80 years on his birthday today.
Despite all of his exploits on the field, Banks is perhaps best known for a famous catch phrase. Always an eternal optimist with an unbridled passion for playing the game, Banks would often try to lift the spirits of his teammates with three famous words of encouragement: “Let’s play two”.
We got the setting – sunshine, fresh air, the team behind us. So let’s play two” – Ernie Banks, excerpted from his Hall of Fame induction speech, August 8, 1977
As it turns out, Banks was sort of an expert on the subject, having played in 665 doubleheader games. In fact, over 25% of his career at bats were taken during a doubleheader, and almost incomprehensible figure by today’s standards. Unfortunately, although Banks may have enjoyed playing in doubleheaders, his performance in them didn’t deviate much from the norm. Apparently, not even Mr. Cub’s enthusiasm could overcome a reversion to the mean.
Ernie Banks Performance in Doubleheaders