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The news of Ernie Banks’ death on Friday evening has been a punch in the gut to baseball fans form all over the world, but perhaps no baseball fan felt the blow stronger than the leader of the United States, President Barack Obama. Having spent a significant portion of his adult life in Chicago, President Obama became a fan of Ernie Banks, just like everyone else who had the pleasure of knowing him or meeting him. And though the president is never shy about sharing his allegiance to the Chicago White Sox, his respect and admiration for Mr. Cub was always clear. Perhaps never more so than Nov. 20, 2013, when he awarded Ernie Banks the Presidential Medal of Freedom .  On Saturday, the president and his wife, Michelle, joined the rest world in paying tribute and saying goodbye to the American sports icon by releasing the following statement:  Michelle and I send our condolences to the family of Ernie Banks, and to every Chicagoan and baseball fan who loved him. Ernie came up through the Negro Leagues, making $7 a day. He became the first African-American to play for the Chicago Cubs, and the first number the team retired. Along the way, he became known as much for his 512 home runs and back-to-back National League MVPs as for his cheer, his optimism, and his love of the game. As a Hall-of-Famer, Ernie was an incredible ambassador for baseball, and for the city of Chicago. He was beloved by baseball fans everywhere, including Michelle, who, when she was a girl, used to sit with her dad and watch him play on TV. And in 2013, it was my honor to present Ernie with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Somewhere, the sun is shining, the air is fresh, his team’s behind him, and Mr. Class — “Mr. Cub” — is ready to play two. Also on Saturday morning, Cubs have started a makeshift memorial to Ernie Banks outside Wrigley Field. Fans are leaving flowers and beer cans at Wrigley at Addison and Sheffield. #Cubs pic.twitter.com/rwlbX4bxly — Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) January 24, 2015 The beer cans are said to be a toast to Mr. Cub’s legacy. Continuing construction at Wrigley Field has made it difficult for fans to get close to the ballpark, but that hasn’t deterred them so far. Unfortunately, though, those hoping to leave a tribute at the Ernie Banks statue will have to wait until opening day. According to the Chicago Tribune, it’s currently being restored .  More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports: – - – - – - – Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

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Post info: By NorthsideBum on January 24th, 2015
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Even as the Chicago Cubs lost one game after another, Ernie Banks never lost hope. The Cubs announced Banks’ death, but did not provide a cause. Banks hit 512 home runs during his 19-year career and was fond of saying, ”It’s a great day for baseball. Let’s play two.” In fact, that sunny finish to his famous catchphrase adorns his statue outside Wrigley Field.

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Post info: By NorthsideBum on January 24th, 2015
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The Cubs and recently acquired outfielder Dexter Fowler have agreed to a $9.5 million, one-year contract, avoiding arbitration. He asked for $10.8 million in arbitration last week and was offered $8.5 million by the Astros. Fowler, 28, hit .276 with eight homers and 35 RBIs last year in his only season with the Astros. Chicago acquired Fowler for infielder Luis Valbuena and right-hander Dan Straily.

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Post info: By NorthsideBum on January 23rd, 2015
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Today we’ll get ready for the 2015 MLB season with a team-by-team bullpen audit.

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Post info: By NorthsideBum on January 23rd, 2015
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Colby Rasmus never really took to living in Toronto in the 3 1/2 seasons he played for the Blue Jays. Born in Georgia and raised in Alabama, Rasmus has returned from Canada to play for the Houston Astros and couldn’t be more excited about the change. Wearing a pullover with camouflage details and speaking with his syrupy Alabama drawl, Rasmus raved about the move. The deal followed Houston’s decision to trade last year’s starting center fielder, Dexter Fowler, to the Chicago Cubs.

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Hours after a New York Yankees minor league affiliate weighed in on the NFL’s “deflategate” scandal , a Chicago Cubs minor league affiliate has taken it to the next level, announcing a deflategate-themed promotion that will double as a fundraiser in the battle against cancer. The Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Chicago’s brand new Class A-Advanced team in the Carolina League, will hold Deflate Cancer Night on April 15, which will be the first of six games in the team’s Strike Out Cancer Series. According to the press release , this promotion will specifically focus on raising awareness and funds for testicular cancer, the reasons of which we’re sure you can figure out yourself. The fundraising will include a 50/50 raffle, with proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society. Additionally, the team will give away inflatable baseballs to the first 1200 fans, but only one of 12 will be properly inflated, because these folks aren’t glossing over any details . Oh, and the opponents on that evening? You better believe it’s the Salem Red Sox, which is the Boston Red Sox Class A-Advanced squad. “In honor of the New England sports tradition, the choice of a night in which the Boston Red Sox affiliate was in town was the obvious choice for this night,” explained Pelicans Vice President and General Manager Andy Milovich. “To be able to promote awareness of such a serious disease so early in the season, while having some fun in the process is what we are all about.” Indeed, the Pelicans are having all kinds of fun with this promotion. This is trolling in its purest form, but you haven’t heard anything yet. Here’s more from the press release. Important to note for concerned parents, the Pelicans have opted not to invite the New England Patriots equipment manager to run the Kids Zone. The bounce house, speed-pitch, and obstacle course will, as always, be inflated to the specified safety levels outlined in their respective manuals. Finally, the Pelicans plan to formally invite Walt Anderson and his officiating crew from the AFC Championship Game to inspect the game balls prior to first pitch. Word from Splash, the Pelicans mascot, is that Mugsy, the Salem Red Sox mascot, has been hatching plans to film the Pelicans practices prior the three-game series, which begins on April 13 at TicketReturn.Com Field at Pelicans Ballpark. Relentless, but hilarious. Well played, Pelicans. And good luck! BLS H/N: Extra Mustard   More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports: – - – - – - – Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

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The Chicago Cubs hope Dexter Fowler will provide outfield strength and spark at the top of the batting order. ”He does control the strike zone really well,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Monday after acquiring Fowler from the Houston Astros for infielder Luis Valbuena and right-hander Dan Straily. Fowler, 28, hit .276 with eight homers and 35 RBIs last year in his only season with the Astros, who obtained him from Colorado for outfielder Brandon Barnes and right-hander Jordan Lyles.

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