Ernie Banks to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

Ernie Banks to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom
August 8, 2013, 1:00 pm
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"Mr. Cub" is headed to the White House.

President Barack Obama will announce Thursday that Ernie Banks and NCAA Hall of Famer Dean Smith will be awarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

"I am humbled and honored to receive this great award and to be among such distinguished honorees,” said Banks.  “I have spent my life trying to help others enjoy and appreciate the sport I love. I thank President Obama for all his efforts. The Chicago Cubs and Cubs fans everywhere share in this award as their support makes me proud to continue to work on behalf of America's greatest game."

This award is widely regarded as the highest civilian honor one can receive. It is presented to those who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

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Banks is still known as one of the best players to ever play major league baseball. Throughout his major league career, the 82-year-old Hall of Famer hit more than 500 home runs while earning MVP honors in back-to-back years in 1958-59. Banks was also named an 11-time All-Star.

“This honor is well deserved for a man who has done so much for the game of baseball, said Tom Ricketts, chairman of the Cubs.  “His contributions on and off the field have made a monumental impact to society.  He is a great American ambassador who continues to spend his time and effort helping others love and appreciate America’s pastime."

Other notable sports figures to take home the award include Muhammad Ali, Hank Aaron and most recently, Pat Summit.

A time and date for the ceremony has yet to be announced.