Celebrating Ernie Banks’ Hall of Fame walk-offs

It’s a beautiful day for a ball game. Let’s play two.

If we’re going to talk Ernie Banks and walk-offs, we have to talk about two of them. And the best pair I’ve got is that he hit two walk-off home runs against Hall-of-Fame pitchers.

The first came on August 18 1960 against the Dodgers. The Dodgers finished fourth in the NL. The Cubs finished seventh, so this game wasn’t particularly consequential. However, it was a pretty good game.

It was a pitcher’s duel between Don Drysdale of the Dodgers and Glen Hobbie of the Cubs. Give Hobbie, who led the NL with 20 losses that season, credit for going toe-to-toe with Drysdale for just under two hours. The Dodgers had a few scoring chances, but three of them were killed by double plays.

The score was even until the bottom of the ninth. Right fielder Bob Will led off for the Cubs with a wicked line drive. Edward Prell of the Chicago Tribune described it as hitting Drysdale’s hand and head before caroming right to first baseman Norm Larker, who caught it on the fly for the out.

Banks was up next. Drysdale was not injured, but perhaps dazed. And Banks ended his day with a walk-off home run on Drysdale’s first pitch.

The other came on September 4, 1967 and we’re glad to report it was on a day in which Banks played two. This was part of a crazy stretch in which the Cubs (and Banks) played four doubleheaders in four days at Wrigley Field. This one was another pitcher’s duel – Rich Nye of the Cubs against Claude Osteen of the Dodgers. The teams were even at one run apiece through nine innings because Lou Johnson hit a game-tying home run off Nye with two outs in the ninth (the end was Nye jokes go here).

By the 11th inning Nye was out and Osteen and Ron Perranoski had been relieved by Don Sutton. The Cubs were in need of an ending and Banks provided it, hitting a home run on a 2-2 pitch to win the game.

Minutiae

– Banks only hit four walk-off home runs in his career. Those two are half of them.

– Banks twice played in doubleheaders in which the Cubs won both games by walk-off. One was in 1958. The other was in 1968. The 1958 one is cool because the game was won by Walt Moryn’s two-run home run off Sandy Koufax. Banks was on base when the home run was hit. It was Moryn’s third home run of the game.

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