First, today would have been Jean Baptiste “Django” Reinhardt’s 105th birthday (hat tip to Mike Spain for letting me know). In honor of that occasion, here’s Django, Stephane Grappelli, and the rest of the Quintette du Hot Club du Paris with “Limehouse Blues.” I love the solo in this one.
Some sad news last night: Ernie Banks, “Mr. Cub,” who played his entire 19-year career with the North Siders, died yesterday at the age of 83. Yes, I know he played for the Cubs, but in Chicago during the 1950’s and 1960’s, everyone was an Ernie Banks fan. He was a great player, an even better human being, and one of baseball’s best ambassadors.
Ernie hit 512 home runs in his career. He hit Number 500 on May 12, 1970, off of Pat Jarvis of the Atlanta Braves. I would like to say that I was there, but alas, I was there the day before with the Altar Boys. In his last at bat on the 11th, he tripled off the left-field wall, and we all thought he had done it. More than a few of us wanted to see him try for an inside-the-park home run, but he slid into third and Leo Durocher pulled him for a pinch-runner. He tipped his batting helmet to the fans as he ran into the dugout, and we all went crazy. He waited until his first at-bat on the 12th to hit the magic homer.
Here’s a video of his first three home runs of the 1970 season, Numbers 498, 499, and 500 of his career. Hall of Fame announcer Jack Brickhouse does the play-by-play. Today, coincidentally, would have been Jack’s 99th birthday.
Rest in peace, Ernie. Hope you’re playing two today.