If anyone had a key to the City of Chicago, it would have been the late, great Ernie Banks. The most popular player in the storied history of the Chicago Cubs, Banks earned the nickname “Mr. Cub” during the course of his 19-year, Hall of Fame career. Starting on August 5, one of his rarest Cubs jerseys goes on the block in SCP Auctions’ 2015 Mid-Summer Classic.
SCP officials say it is among the few surviving unaltered Banks’ jerseys known to exist. Completely unknown to the collecting community, it has rested quietly for more than 40 years in the possession of a Cubs-loving family. Chicagoans who at one time lived right across the street from Wrigley Field, the Berman family’s second son, Jeff, acquired the jersey directly from Banks in 1974. Mr. Cub handed it to the then 21-year-old as a token of his appreciation for coaching Ernie’s fraternal twin boys, Jerry and Joey, in basketball at a local Boys’ Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, which is where the Cubs used to play their spring training games. Berman then gifted the jersey four years later to his nephew, Randy “Boomer” Berman, on the latter’s actual birthday: Dec. 14, 1978.
Banks ripped 32 home runs and drove in 83 during the 1968 season.
SCP Auctions sold a 1969 Ernie Banks Cubs home jersey (Set 1) from the Bill Riddell Estate Collection in its 2014 Fall Premier online auction for $151,652.
Auction officials say the ’68 jersey has been photo-matched with multiple images including the one shown at right. A Cubbie Bear patch appears on the left sleeve and a special “1818 Illinois Sesquicentennial 1968” patch from that season celebrating the state’s 150th year in existence remains on the right sleeve. Unlike what was common practice of the day, the jersey was never recycled with the Cubs’ minor leagues affiliates.
The jersey will be on display at the National Sports Collectors Convention at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL from July 29 through August 2.