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Ernie Banks’ 500th Home Run was Highlight of Eventful 1970 Cub Season, Says Author of New Book
William S. Bike -- Historical Commentator William S. Bike -- Historical Commentator
Chicago, IL
Friday, May 7, 2021

The Forgotten 1970 Chicago Cubs: Go and Glow.

"Mr. Cub Ernie Banks' 500th home run was the highlight of the very eventful 1970 Chicago Cubs baseball season," says William S. Bike, author of the new book The Forgotten 1970 Chicago Cubs: Go and Glow, recently published by The History Press. The anniversary of that historic homer is May 12.

            "It's hard to pick a number one moment from a season that saw the Cubs put five players on the field who would go on to make the Hall of Fame and the closest pennant race featuring the Cubs in the last 80 years, but the one that Cub fans remember—even if they weren't born yet—is Mr. Cub's 500th homer," Bike said.

            When he hit his 500th homer on May 12, 1970, Ernie Banks became only the ninth player in baseball history to join the elite club of baseball's best bashers—"a sure ticket to the Hall of Fame, not that there was any doubt that Ernie would make it," Bike said.

            In 2021, the "500 homer club" now has 27 members.

            "The Cubs added the 'basket' surrounding the outfield walls in 1970, so Cub fans were worried about Ernie's 500th being a 'cheapie,'" Bike noted. "But that didn't happen. Banks hit a line shot into the left field bleachers that was hit so hard that nobody could handle it and it ricocheted back onto the field. Atlanta Brave outfielder Rico Carty retrieved it and gave it to Cub Willie Smith, who presented Ernie with the souvenir ball immediately."

            Hit on a Tuesday, Mr. Cub's clout came in front of only 5,264 fans—a typical early season weekday Wrigley Field crowd in those days.

            Banks nearly tallied his 500th two days before in front of a huge Mother's Day Wrigley Field crowd against the Big Red Machine Cincinnati Reds—in a unique way.

            The 1970 season was the last in which Banks would start regularly. A knee injury later in the season put the Cub first baseman on the disabled list, and when he returned he platooned at the first sack with Jim Hickman and Joe Pepitone.

            "If the Cubs would have made the World Series though—and they nearly did—the fans would have seen Ernie Banks starting at first in the Fall Classic," Bike said. "Manager Leo Durocher would have been run out of town had he started anyone else besides Mr. Cub."

            The story of the Ernie Banks's 500th home run is only one of the interesting topics Bike covers in The Forgotten 1970 Chicago Cubs: Go and Glow. The book also details the addition of the basket, good trades for fan favorite players Joe Pepitone and Milt Pappas, bad trades, how Manager Leo Durocher's radio show caused clubhouse chaos, death threats against third baseman Ron Santo, outfielders Billy Williams's and Jim Hickman's best season, the great Cub pitching rotation, the Cubs' tightest pennant race of the last 80 years, and statistical and computer analyses of how the Eastern Division Cubs would have done playing in the Western Division, and in the playoffs and World Series.

            William S. Bike wrote the books Streets of the Near West Side, Winning Political Campaigns, and Celebrating a Proud Past and edited the book Essays on Earl Renfroe: A Man of Firsts. Associate editor of the newspaper Gazette Chicago, he also works as a freelance writer. Formerly, he directed in communications for Loyola University Chicago, the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and the University of Illinois Chicago College of Dentistry. Bike has earned more than 50 awards in journalism, publications, media relations, and alumni relations, including three Peter Lisagor Awards, the top honors in Chicago journalism.

            The Forgotten 1970 Chicago Cubs: Go and Glow, published by The History Press of Charleston, SC, can be obtained on book purchase websites and in bookstores. Bike is available for broadcast, internet, and print interviews. Email anbcommunications@yahoo.com or call (773) 229-0024.

Buy William S. Bike's latest book, The Forgotten 1970 Chicago Cubs: Go and Glow, at www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/97814671490827.

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Name: William S. Bike
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Dateline: Chicago, IL United States
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