Ernie Banks will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, along with legendary basketball coach Dean Smith. President Barack Obama made the announcement regarding the two Hall of Famers on Thursday.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is regarded as the highest civilian honor awarded in the United States. It is an award reserved only for individuals "who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors," according to the White House.
Affectionately known as Mr. Cub, Banks spent his entire 19-year career on the North Side of Chicago. An 11-time All-Star, Banks won back-to-back National League MVP Awards in 1958-59 and finished his career with 512 home runs. He was elected to join baseball's elite in Cooperstown as a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 1977.
The White House will announce the specific date on which the medals will be awarded to Banks and Smith, who was college basketball's winningest coach at the time of his retirement in 1997.
Banks joins baseball legends Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial, Buck O'Neil, Frank Robinson, Jackie Robinson and Ted Williams in receiving the Medal of Freedom.
Other sports-related recipients include Muhammad Ali, Arthur Ashe, Earl Blaik, Paul Bryant, Billie Jean King, Robert J.H. Kiphuth, Jack Nicklaus, Jesse Owens, Arnold Palmer, Richard Petty, Bill Russell, John Wooden and Pat Summitt, who received the honor last year.
Neal, Guerrier placed on disabled list
PHILADELPHIA -- The Cubs have struggled all year with their health, but even the fact that they have had 49 players suit up and play this year didn't prepare them for the seventh inning of Wednesday's 5-2 win at Citizens Bank Park over the Phillies.
In the span of five minutes, outfielder Thomas Neal, reliever Matt Guerrier and catcher Dioner Navarro all sustained injuries. Guerrier was placed on the 60-day disabled list due to a right elbow injury while Neal was added to the 15-day DL. Navarro is currently listed as day-to-day with a right ankle injury.
"Not exactly," said manager Dale Sveum when asked if he had ever seen anything like the seventh inning. "We claim [Neal], that's a nice hitter. Maybe bring some stuff to the table with his bat and then he goes down in his second game.
"Losing [Guerrier] is a tough one because that solidified our bullpen in the seventh, eighth inning when we were winning. You don't want major injuries like that happening and we had three in one inning."
Neal sustained a dislocated shoulder on a throw early in the inning, and Guerrier indicated he first noticed on a curveball to Chase Utley something in his elbow had gone wrong, then he tried to power through the rest of the inning before he told Sveum what was happening with his arm.
With Guerrier headed to the 60-day DL, the Cubs purchased the contract of 33-year-old catcher J.C. Boscan from Triple-A Iowa. Boscan gives the Cubs depth with Navarro day-to-day with an ankle contusion.
To replace Neal, the Cubs recalled Eduardo Sanchez from Iowa. On Tuesday, it was Sanchez who was sent to Iowa to make room for Neal. Sanchez had a 3.00 ERA in two appearances this season for the Cubs. The right-hander came out of the bullpen on Thursday to replace Jeff Samardzija, who struggled through 3 1/3 innings. Sanchez allowed one run over 2 1/3 innings.
Navarro day-to-day following injury scare
PHILADELPHIA -- Dioner Navarro has been in collisions before and he'll surely be in collisions in the future.
That doesn't mean he looks forward to them, and after the Cubs catcher had a run-in with Phillies second baseman Chase Utley in the seventh inning of a 5-2 win at Citizens Bank Park, it appeared as if this was one of the worst he had ever encountered. The prevailing thought as he was carted off the field was that the veteran backstop had a broken ankle, but X-rays were negative on his right ankle and Navarro was back in the Cubs' clubhouse on Thursday morning, sore, but able to walk around.
"We're taking it more day-by-day," said Navarro, who has been diagnosed with a contusion. "We'll see what happens in a couple of days. I don't know, it's just a contusion, whatever. There's some inflammation.
"I thought it was going to be worse than it was. I tape my ankles before every game so I guess the tape worked."
For the Cubs, who have used 49 players this season and will most likely surpass the team record of 51 in a season over the next few weeks, Navarro's injury provides some much-needed good news.
"[Navarro] said he thought it was broken, heard a pop and stuff like that," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "I think we're all happy it seems like a pretty good sprain like you did it in a basketball game or something."
"I watched the replay too," Navarro said. "We both did what we needed to do. I guess I got the worst end of it. Being a catcher, you get hit so many times you kind of forget those things. It's up there, that's for sure. Definitely I feel lucky. We did the X-ray and nothing showed up and I'm able to walk today."
• Upon being told that Phillies manager Charlie Manuel had compared Wednesday night's hero Daniel Murphy to Babe Ruth, Sveum laughed. "Thank God. Thank God Babe's on our team."
• Thursday is 25th anniversary of the first night game at Wrigley. Coincidentally, it featured the Phillies and Cubs and was postponed due to rain with the Cubs up 3-1.