Banks remembered for unwavering optimism

(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

CHICAGO (AP) Fans and friends paid tribute to legendary Chicago Cubs slugger Ernie Banks on Saturday, recalling how he helped break baseball's color barrier during a Hall of Fame career in which he won over teammates and an entire city with the unwavering optimism he brought to the game and life.

At a memorial service in a Chicago church, the buoyant man known as "Mr. Cub" was remembered for his character as much as his accomplishments on the ballfield, including his 512 career home runs. Speaker after speaker recalled Banks' unflagging spirit and good cheer - he enthusiastically predicted each spring that his team would win the pennant - as well as his humility and care for others.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson said Banks "disarmed adversaries with optimism" and "branded goodwill." Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Banks was a "humble hero" who taught younger generations "how to play the game of life." Fellow Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins said the unassuming, joyful Banks strove to be a good teammate, not a star.

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