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Let's Play Two

Let's Play Two

The Legend of Mr. Cub, the Life of Ernie Banks

The definitive and revealing biography of Chicago Cubs legend Ernie Banks, one of America’s most iconic, beloved, and misunderstood baseball players, by acclaimed journalist Ron Rapoport.

Ernie Banks, the first-ballot Hall of Famer and All-Century Team shortstop, played in fourteen All-Star Games, won two MVPs, and twice led the Major Leagues in home runs and runs batted in. He outslugged Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Mickey Mantle when they were in their prime, but while they made repeated World Series appearances in the 1950s and 60s, Banks spent his entire career with the woebegone Chicago Cubs, who didn’t win a pennant in his adult lifetime.

Today, Banks is remembered best for his signature phrase, “Let’s play two,” which has entered the American lexicon and exemplifies the enthusiasm that endeared him to fans everywhere. But Banks’s public display of good cheer was a mask that hid a deeply conflicted, melancholy, and often quite lonely man. Despite the poverty and racism he endured as a young man, he was among the star players of baseball’s early days of integration who were reluctant to speak out about Civil Rights. Being known as one of the greatest players never to reach the World Series also took its toll. At one point, Banks even saw a psychiatrist to see if that would help. It didn’t. Yet Banks smiled through it all, enduring the scorn of Cubs manager Leo Durocher as an aging superstar and never uttering a single complaint.

Let’s Play Two is based on numerous conversations with Banks and on interviews with more than a hundred of his family members, teammates, friends, and associates as well as oral histories, court records, and thousands of other documents and sources. Together, they explain how Banks was so different from the caricature he created for the public. The book tells of Banks’s early life in segregated Dallas, his years in the Negro Leagues, and his difficult life after retirement; and features compelling portraits of Buck O’Neil, Philip K. Wrigley, the Bleacher Bums, the doomed pennant race of 1969, and much more from a long-lost baseball era.
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Genre: Nonfiction / Biography & Autobiography / Sports

On Sale: March 26th 2019

Price: $28 / $36.5 (CAD)

Page Count: 464

ISBN-13: 9780316318631

What's Inside

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Reader Reviews

Praise

"Growing up, every kid I knew wanted to be Ernie Banks, Chicago's 'Mr. Cub.' But there was much more to Ernie than his MVP seasons or his famously sunny outward demeanor. Let's Play Two captures the best of Banks' playing moments, but also delves deeply into a man who did not seem to want you to know more than you could see. Rapoport, a legendary Chicago sportswriter, has written a fascinating, readable, and impeccably researched book about a man who was a Hall of Famer, but also a decided creature of his times."—Scott Turow
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"Rapoport has outdone himself, artfully redefining the Banks most of us think we knew."—Rick Kogan, The Chicago Tribune
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"This is a wonderful book worthy of all the energy and vitality Ernie Banks brought to his remarkable career. But it is also a revealing portrait of the often difficult life of a black ballplayer in America and the often lonely man imprisoned and isolated by his exuberant outer image."—Ken Burns
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"Hooray! Ernie Banks now has the Hall-of-Fame biography he deserves thanks to Ron Rapoport. This well-researched, beautifully written book is everything a baseball fan could want. Cubs fans, of course, will want to buy two."—Jonathan Eig, the author of Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig and Ali: A Life
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"Rapoport, a 20-year veteran sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, delivers what is sure to be the definitive biography of Chicago Cubs baseball player Ernie Bank...This marvelous look at the life of a beloved athlete should be essential reading for baseball fan."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
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"Ernie Banks crossed the bridge from a segregated nation and national pastime to a better place, smiling all the way. Although his smile was real, so were the scarring experiences he smiled through. He was more complicated and interesting than the human sunbeam he chose to resemble. With a reporter's diligence and a historian's sensibility, Ron Rapoport tells Banks' story, and that of the different nations at the two ends of the bridge."—George F. Will
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"[An] excellent new biography of Banks."—The Hardball Times
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"This is the definitive biography of baseball's Mr. Sunshine, and Ron Rapoport is the one writer who knew him best and could tell it like it was -- including the 'other side of sunshine.'"—Bill Madden, author of Steinbrenner: The Last Lion of Baseball
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"Famed sportwriter Ron Rappaport's new biography, Let's Play Two, provides a lot of laugh, a few tears, and helps us better understand the great Ernie Banks."—WBEZ Chicago
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"[Banks's] era couldn't have been illustrated any better...Rapoport paints a sobering portrait of a man who was ebullient on the outside - "let's play two" - but suffering on the inside."—Forbes
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"Let's Play Two is a great baseball book, ranking with other outstanding contemporary baseball biographies."—Illinois Times
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